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Peterson AFB money headed to the border

Posted at 8:31 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 10:05:49-04

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The Pentagon released a list of 127 projects Wednesday that will have funding cut and money diverted to help pay for President Trump's border wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Among the projects on the list, $8 million dollars earmarked for a National Guard Space Control Facility on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

The Pentagon says that $1.8 billion dollars in domestic U.S. military money will be diverted for border barriers and $1.8 billion in money earmarked for projects at U.S. military installations around the world.

Defense Department officials said they were hopeful that Congress would "backfill" the money that's being taken from the projects. However, a senior defense official told NBC News that there were "no guarantees" the projects would be funded in the future.

The decision to move the money has created a political firestorm with Colorado's Congressional delegation and others weighing in.

First, in defense of the move, Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, ranking member of the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee told News5 that "this is the only deferred military construction project out of about 100 that is located in Colorado." He added "The construction of border barriers will help make migration flows more predictable, reduce the need for high-demand/low-density DOD aviation assets, allow DOD to re-prioritize it's force laydown in support of Border Patrol, and enable more effective and efficient use of DOD personnel."

U.S. Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado, a democrat, with harsh words for the move and the President, saying "President Trump's selfish decision to raid military construction funding is a new low in his ridiculous pursuit of a campaign promise. These projects, including the Space Control Facility at Peterson Air Force Base, were identified by the Department of Defense and the Trump Administration as critical to our military readiness. Taking money from operational priorities to pay for a wasteful and ineffective wall is grossly irresponsible and undermines our national security."

Back in March, President Trump issued an emergency declaration to shift military dollars to pay for the wall, and the Colorado Sun reported Wednesday that Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner received a commitment from the Trump administration that no 2019 fiscal year money would be repurposed from Colorado's military installations.

Gardner did not support a Democratic push to block the emergency declaration, saying it was the President's legal right to issue the order. The $8 million the Sun reports, appears to fall outside those assurances Gardner received from the White House because it was allocated in the prior fiscal year.

Nonetheless, former Governor John Hickenlooper, who is now in the race to unseat Senator Gardner in Congress, released a statement to News5, saying "Even after voting with President Trump 99% of the time, Cory Gardner was unable to stop the President from raiding needed funds for the Space Control Facility at Peterson Air Force Base. We need a Senator who'll stand up for Colorado, not a yes man to Donald Trump."

In making it's decision on what money to divert, the Pentagon reviewed a list of military projects and said none that provided housing or critical infrastructure for troops would be used, and money would come from projects set to begin in 2020 or beyond. The money will be used on nearly a dozen wall projects in Arizona, Texas and California.

We reached out to the 21st Space Wing on Peterson Air Force Base for comment on Wednesday afternoon, and they told News5 they had not received the list from the Pentagon, and referred us to the Pentagon. I contacted military liason for public affairs, Lieutenant Colonel Christian Mitchell's office at the Pentagon for the list and press release, but had not received either an email or return phone call as of Wednesday night. Senator Bennett and Congressman Lamborn's office, did confirm the information.