February 28, 2020

Van Hollen, Cardin Join Senate Dems to Introduce Bill to Reverse & Restore Military Funding After President Trump Repeatedly Raids Defense Department for His Border Wall

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) have joined 31 Senate Democratic colleagues to introduce the Restoring Military Priorities Act of 2020. The bill would reverse and restore the Department of Defense’s (DoD) recent short sighted and dangerous transfer of $3.8 billion to be used to build part of President Donald Trump’s ineffective border wall.  The bill also reduces DoD’s transfer authority so that DoD cannot turn around and try to divert additional funding for President Trump’s border wall.  Currently, there is no other process at hand to reverse a reprogramming.

The most recent DoD reprogramming targeted the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of programs added by Congress to address shortfalls that were in many cases identified by military leaders.  This was the third time in less than one year that the Defense Department has used this unilateral process to bypass Congress and divert funding to President Trump’s border wall.

“President Trump’s illegal diversion of millions of taxpayer dollars from projects that support the real needs of our armed forces in order to finance his inefficient, unnecessary border wall is indefensible. From improving childcare facilities at Joint Base Andrews, to funding critical equipment upgrades for our National Guard and Reservists, Congress appropriated these funds to meet the needs of our military and our military families,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This bill would protect military families by putting a stop to this unconstitutional money grab.”

“President Trump continues to dishonor our troops and military families by taking away millions of dollars in DoD resources in order to build his useless border wall,” said Senator Cardin. “His actions would cost our National Guard and Reservists the equipment that they desperately need to protect our national security.  This is in addition to the cuts made last year to childcare facilities and schools that would improve the quality of life for troops and their families on bases. Our bill would reject this recent unlawful power grab and restore the valuable defense funds we need to keep our troops and citizens safe.”

Along with Senators Van Hollen and Cardin, the bill is also sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-N.V.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

In the spring of 2019, the Defense Department transferred $2.5 billion in funding to be used to build part of President Trump’s border wall, and the President later raided an additional $3.6 billion in military construction funds for his wall.  Earlier this month, the Defense Department reprogrammed another $3.8 billion from the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of programs added by Congress to address shortfalls that were in many cases identified by military leaders in critical equipment. 

In January, it was reported that President Trump intends to raid $7.2 billion in DoD funds this year to pay for his wall, diverting funding from military families and forcing American taxpayers to pay for his vanity project and failed campaign promise.

Full text of the legislation is available here.