September 19, 2019/Press

NEW: Pentagon Warned of “Dire Outcomes” from Tillis-Backed Raid on Military Funding, Including “Substandard” Facilities and “Compromised Readiness” at Camp Lejeune

Raleigh – The Pentagon warned of “dire outcomes” from Senator Tillis’ spineless decision to rubber stamp the White House’s sham emergency declaration, stating that “lives would be put at risk” if these projects were not funded, specifically citing Camp Lejeune as one of the bases hardest hit. Medical and dental care is provided at Camp Lejeune at “substandard, inefficient, decentralized and uncontrolled facilities,” according to the military, and raiding funding for and delaying construction of a new facility “will result in compromised readiness, uncoordinated care delivery, and inappropriate use of medical resources.”

Editorial boards continue to blast Senator Tillis and gutless Republicans for meekly standing by. USA Today labeled it “an abuse of power and an insult to America’s service members,” specifically citing “an ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina” as an example of the negative impact. In state, papers have blasted Tillis for his “$80 million punch to the gut” and “robbing peter to pay for a wall,” calling it “the source of one of the senator’s weakest moments.”

No state got hit harder than North Carolina” by Senator Tillis’ spineless decision to rubberstamp the president’s emergency declaration, which is now costing Fort Bragg, Seymour Johnson AFB, and Camp Lejeune more than $80 million in funding. Now, the loss of funding “poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces” and “dire outcomes” for service members abroad and at home.

Washington Post: Pentagon has warned of dire outcomes if military projects canceled for wall don’t happen
By Aaron Gregg and Erica Werner
September 18, 2019

Key Points:

  • The Pentagon warned of dire outcomes unless Congress paid for urgently needed military construction projects nationwide — the same projects that have now been canceled to fund President Trump’s border wall.
  • The warnings are contained in Defense Department budget requests sent to lawmakers in recent years. They include potentially hazardous living conditions for troops and their families, as well as unsafe schools that would impede learning. In numerous cases, the Defense Department warned that lives would be put at risk if buildings don’t meet the military’s standards for fire safety or management of explosives.
  • Even before $3.6 billion in construction funding was pulled to support a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, military buildings across the country often had been neglected in favor of other priorities. The defense spending limits that took effect after a 2013 budget deal designed to end a government shutdown starved the military’s construction budget for years, officials and analysts say, meaning many construction projects are long overdue.
  • In requests to Congress over the past three years, military officials describe dilapidated World War II-era warehouses with “leaking asbestos panel roof systems,” a drone pilot training facility with sinkholes and a bat infestation, explosives being stored in buildings that didn’t meet safety standards and a mold-infested middle school. In numerous instances, Defense Department officials wrote that the infrastructure problems were hurting the military’s readiness and impeding the department’s national security mission.
  • A different issue looms at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where medical and dental care is provided in “substandard, inefficient, decentralized and uncontrolled facilities,” according to the military, which has sought congressional approval to build a new ambulatory care center on the base. Not doing so “will result in compromised readiness, uncoordinated care delivery, and inappropriate use of medical resources,” the Pentagon said.

USA TODAY: Editorial: Trump wall raids 127 military construction projects, mocks the Constitution
By the Editorial Board
September 18, 2019

Key Points:

  • From his very first speech as a candidate, Donald Trump promised to build a great wall along the southern border and “have Mexico pay for that wall.” He repeated the pledge at countless campaign rallies.
  • Apparently, the president has an expansive view of Mexico. An ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is, in his view, part of Mexico. So is an engineering center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. And so are a cyber-ops facility in Virginia, a fire station in South Carolina, the central heating facility at an Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, and a middle school in Kentucky.
  • These are among 127 military construction projects whose $3.6 billion in funding will be raided to help pay for Trump’s wall. All of them were deemed important and worthy of congressional appropriations, approved by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the president. And then Trump took their money away.
  • Time was when a maneuver like this would have outraged Republicans. Now, however, the whole thing induces, at best, a shrug.
  • What is happening here is wrong on many levels. For starters, most of these military projects are vital. They are not costly new weapons systems but rather the types of things that military people rely on to train, learn, get medical care and more.
  • The most troubling aspects of the diversion relate to congressional powers and the Constitution. Tuesday was Constitution Day, and Article 1, Section 9 says: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” For decades, courts have done their best to pretend this sentence doesn’t exist, allowing both unbudgeted entitlements and presidential power grabs. But one might think that Congress as an institution would defend its prerogatives.
  • Alas, no. Earlier this year, most Republicans in the House and the Senate sided with Trump and voted away their powers over the purse. A second vote is likely soon. Don’t expect a different result.

Greensboro News & Record: Editorial: Robbing Peter to pay for a wall
By the Editorial Board
September 11, 2019

Key Points:

  • What the president wouldn’t want us to ask him is why, then, he is taking millions of dollars designated for projects on military bases in North Carolina to build his border wall with Mexico, in a move that hurts the military and the state. The loss of funds could also hurt Tillis, who is up for re-election next year, and who in March voted to support the dubious emergency declaration that Trump is using to justify his raid on military construction funds.
  • North Carolina won’t be the only state suffering because of Trump’s tantrum, but it’s one of the hardest hit. Bases here will lose about $80 million that Congress had designated for planned military construction projects. There’s Camp Lejeune, the huge Marine base at Jacksonville, which is struggling after being hit hard last year by Hurricane Florence. Trump is taking $40 million that was supposed to go to a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center there. He’s also taking $32.9 million for a new elementary school at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville and $6.4 million for a storage facility at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base at Goldsboro.
  • Across the country and at vital bases in Guam and in Europe, projects won’t be getting money that officials were counting on. And for what? For Trump’s ego and his bragging rights to his base, which loved his loud promises to build a wall but seems to have forgotten the part about making Mexico pay for it.

Charlotte Observer: Editorial: Thom Tillis’ terrible, no good and totally predictable bad day
By the Editorial Board
September 6, 2019

Key Points:

  • The trouble began — as trouble often does — with a tweet. It ended with an $80 million punch to the gut and a lesson that Thom Tillis never seems to learn.
  • Then his day got worse. Late in the afternoon, news broke that $80 million worth of construction projects at North Carolina military bases were being cut to shift funds to building the president’s wall on the Mexican border. The total includes $40 million for a new battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, as well as a planned elementary school to serve families at Fort Bragg. The $80 million in N.C. cuts were more than in any other state with a GOP senator facing reelection in 2020.
  • Trump’s wall already was the source of one of the senator’s weakest moments. As N.C. voters surely remember, Tillis announced in February that he would vote against the president’s effort to circumvent Congress and pay for the wall by declaring a national emergency at the southern border. Three weeks later, he backed down and gave his blessing and vote to the president’s overreach.
  • Now that decision will doubly haunt him.
  • The lessons here? There are at least a couple. First, don’t trust this president. Donald Trump will not hesitate to burn anyone — including people who’ve previously helped him — to get a political victory. And also — when you buy political favor in exchange for your principles, the bill is always more than you thought it would be.