WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after President Trump threatened to use emergency powers to try to use U.S. Department of Defense funds and military personnel to build a border wall along the Southwest border:

“The idea that President Trump is considering declaring a phony national emergency as a pretext to take billions of dollars away from our troops and defense priorities in order to pay for his wall should alarm all Americans.

“Declaring a trumped up national emergency in order to skirt Congressional approval is wrong.  And our troops and taxpayers should not bear the burden of a broken, preposterous campaign promise.

“Defense spending is for national defense, not the Trump campaign’s political wish list.  I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to block any attempt to take money that has been dedicated for our troops and redirect it to construction of a wasteful, ineffective wall.

“President Trump had an all-Republican Congress for the last two years and they didn’t enact his wall.  Now, suddenly, he wants the Pentagon to foot the bill.  Absolutely not. 

“Using 10 U.S.C. 2808 or 284 is not appropriate.  2808 specifies that even if the president declares a national emergency, any military construction project must be “necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”  We are not at war with Mexico, and the proposed border wall has no core DOD function.  Indeed, the Pentagon’s most recent National Defense Strategy doesn’t mention the southern border as a national defense priority.

“President Trump’s midterm troop deployment stunt will cost DOD and taxpayers an estimated $132 million and counting.  That money could have been better spent on actual border security rather than on campaign season border security theater.

“The Pentagon has billions of dollars in infrastructure backlogs, ranging from military construction projects for new missions to deferred maintenance in facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization.  There is no credible argument that a border wall takes priority over any of these.  Moreover, if President Trump attempted to use 2808, that would require DOD to cancel MILCON projects that have already been authorized and appropriated by Congress in order to try and redirect the funds to a border wall.  So which MILCON projects -- which DOD already deemed its highest priorities -- will the Trump Administration now try to terminate or delay in order to fund the wall?  I urge President Trump to share his proposed list with Congress and the American people.

“The President needs to understand that there is bipartisan opposition to misusing defense dollars or treating the Pentagon like a campaign piggy bank. 

“Congress must work together to provide our troops with a budget and policies to match their extraordinary courage and sacrifice, and I urge President Trump to do the same.”