Lawmakers worry about impact on Ohio military projects from Trump's 'emergency' declaration
By JACK TORRY AND JESSICA WEHRMAN | The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio | Published: February 16, 2019
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — President Donald Trump's decision to take $3.6 billion out of military construction projects approved by Congress last year to spend on a border wall has Ohio lawmakers worried that money earmarked for facilities across the state is now at risk.
For example, Congress allocated $61 million in 2018 for the first installment of a $182 million building for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.
It also approved $15 million to replace aircraft hangars at the 180th Fighter Wing at the Toledo Air National Guard Base as well as $8.8 million for base security at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and $7.4 million for a new machine gun range at Ravenna.
Now, presumably, unless a contractor has been hired, any or all of those projects could be delayed or canceled.
Rep. Mike Turner, R – Dayton, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he strongly believes that "securing our border should not be done at the expense of previously funded military construction projects." He said it is "a dangerous precedent" for Trump to declare a national emergency "because Congress refuses to provide necessary funding to protect our country."
"This is insanity," said Rep. Tim Ryan, D – Niles, a member of the House Appropriations Committee's military construction subcommittee.
"I'm not one to run around with my hair on fire about Donald Trump, but for him to completely try to take the power of the purse away from the Congress of the United States is a power grab of immense proportions."
Ryan said the projects at risk because of the border wall "are the kind of projects – whether they're in northeast Ohio or somewhere else – that are part of a long – term strategic plan for the military to make sure the men and women have the kind of facilities they need."
Democrat Rep. Joyce Beatty of Jefferson Township said, "I believe (Trump's) unilateral move is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distort the facts and circumvent the will of Congress so that he can deliver on his campaign promise to build a border wall. No matter, this executive order will very likely cause extensive litigation in the courts, where I am hopeful it will be overruled."
For Dayton, the emergency declaration endangers a building envisioned to house one of the gems of Wright-Patterson, the state's largest single-site employer.
"The NASIC intelligence facility construction project at Wright – Patterson project is critically important to national security and must be funded without delay as Congress intended," said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. "Our congressional delegation fought hard for this. Reallocating funds already approved for this project is not acceptable."
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said "any effort to take funding away from our military to support the president's vanity project is reckless and irresponsible."
He added in a tweet: "Donald Trump is the real national emergency."
Emily Benavides, a spokeswoman for Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman, did not comment on the merits of Trump's emergency declaration, but she said, "Rob is a strong supporter and advocate for Ohio's military facilities and research institutions and will work to ensure that key military construction projects at these strategic facilities can continue to move forward."
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, a brigadier general with the Ohio National Guard and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he support Trump's decision.
"I would have preferred for Congress to find a legislative solution to securing our border, but the president has taken action, and I support that action," he said.
"I believe there is unused money to be found for construction from previous years – funds that were not spent on past projects – and therefore current projects would not be impacted."
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat whose district includes the Toledo Air National Guard Base, said Thursday she was "deeply concerned" about Trump's pending declaration.
"Let me be clear: The situation at the border is not a national emergency," she said. Congress "cannot allow the president to pick the pockets of (the Department of Defense), canceling high-priority military construction in communities at home and abroad, thereby eroding training, readiness and quality of life for our troops."
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