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Arizona delegation splits along party lines on fund shift for border wall

Arizona delegation splits along party lines on fund shift for border wall

The Southern Arizona congressional delegation split along party lines over the shift of $3.6 billion in Pentagon funding from constructing military projects to the border wall.

Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Tom O’Halleran — all Democrats — denounced the decision. They say it delays a $30 million project at Fort Huachuca, one of 127 military projects nationwide now labeled as “deferred.”

The fort’s ground transportation building project is designed to house military trucks, vans, trailers, and vital electronic equipment. Much of that equipment is now stored outside.

“I have seen the Ground Transportation Building at the Fort, and it desperately needed this funding for restoration and repairs, in fact, the funding is long overdue,” said Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick said the announcement by the Pentagon reeks of politics.

“Congress is usually involved in approving the reallocation of military funds, but not this time, all because the president cried wolf in the name of ‘national emergency,’ Kirkpatrick said. “This wall is nothing but an ego-vanity project for the president; it’s a political chant for his base; it is not a national emergency barrier.”

Grijalva agreed it was all about politics.

“With this authoritarian power grab and plunder of military accounts, Trump continues with his quest to build his monument to his racist policies along the southern border,” said Grijalva. “The only national emergency is Trump’s narcissism.”

O’Halleran, whose sprawling district includes the northern portion of Pima County, said Congress should be spending the money on new technology and increased support for Border Patrol agents.

“This is a grossly misguided attempt by this administration to fund an unnecessary physical wall at the expense of critical military installations and the hardworking members of our armed forces,” O’Halleran said.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Martha McSally says the Fort Huachuca project is deferred for a year, not indefinitely. She says the project was already pushed back due to environmental issues at the construction site.

The $30 million figure set to be spent at the fort is a small fraction of the $3.6 billion of the Department of Defense funds utilized for the national emergency declaration.

McSally also spoke with Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy who gave his commitment that the project at Fort Huachuca will be completed in a timely manner.

“As soon as the emergency was declared, I went to the mat to fight for Arizona projects and succeeded by receiving assurances from the highest levels of the Department of Defense,” McSally said. “However, this one project at Fort Huachuca was already delayed because of ongoing environmental cleanup that is taking longer than expected.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, did not issue a statement related to the funding shift.

A staffer referred the Star to a statement Sinema made in March related to an attempt in the Senate to block President Trump’s emergency declaration.

“It is Congress’ constitutional duty to appropriate funds for border security. Several weeks ago, Congress increased Homeland Security funding by $1.7 billion for this year,” Sinema said at the time. “While there is more work for Congress to do, the emergency declaration undermines critical military assets across our country and unnecessarily puts at risk resources for Arizona service members and national security.”

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197.

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Reporter

Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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