Shaheen, Udall & Collins File Bipartisan Resolution to Prevent Funding for Troops, National Security From Being Diverted to Border Wall

September 11, 2019

New resolution follows Administration diverting $3.6 billion in Congressionally-appropriated military construction funds

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced today that they have filed a bipartisan resolution to force a vote to terminate President Trump’s declaration to divert military funds to his border wall and uphold the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.

On February 15, 2019, President Trump ordered that funding be diverted to his border wall that had already been appropriated for services for troops, their families, and military construction projects at home and abroad. This was done despite the fact that Congress alone holds the “power of the purse,” to allocate taxpayer funds. The Department of Defense has since announced that it will divert $3.6 billion in funding from 127 Congressionally-appropriated military projects to the Department of Homeland Security to fund the border wall.

In March, the Senate voted in bipartisan fashion to terminate the president’s emergency declaration, by a vote of 59-41. The U.S. House of Representatives also approved the resolution. However, the President vetoed the resolution. Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, Congress can vote every six months to terminate the declaration. Shaheen, Udall and Collins led the previous bipartisan resolution in the Senate.

The joint resolution introduced by the Senators would terminate the national emergency declaration and uphold the separation of powers, halting further transfers of Congressionally-approved funding away from military construction projects.

“It’s imperative that Congress protect funding that has been set aside for our troops, their families, military bases and efforts to counter our adversaries. These are not slush funds,” said Shaheen. “I appreciate that the Department of Defense made the right call and heeded my concerns about taking funding from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, however, Congress needs to take a stand and protect military funding going forward. I am very pleased that there’s bipartisan support for this resolution to defend the Constitution, and I strongly encourage other members of Congress to join us in this effort.” 

“New Mexico just lost $125 million in military construction funding and millions more could be at risk if this so-called emergency goes on unchecked. We must continue to stand up in a bipartisan way to block the president from circumventing Congress and stepping on the separation of powers, or else a new and dangerous precedent will be set,” Udall said. “Emergency declarations are for true national emergencies—not for going around Congress to get funding that Congress rejected as part of the regular budget process. Along with many New Mexicans, I believe the border wall is an ineffective and offensive vanity project that wastes taxpayer dollars. But stopping any administration from taking away Congressionally-appropriated funds – designated for critical military projects in our states – for political purposes should be something that we can all agree on, regardless of where you stand on the border wall.” 

“Let me be clear: The question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall, or to support or oppose the President. Rather, it is: Do we want the Executive Branch—now or in the future—to hold a power that the Founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?  I strongly support protecting the institutional prerogatives of the Senate, and the system of checks and balances that is central to the structure of our government. Each of these deferred military construction projects was recommended by the President in his budget request, and funding for them was passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President, just as our system was intended to work,” said Collins. “This bipartisan Resolution blocks this overreach, and nothing more, and I urge our colleagues to support it.”

Since the President first announced his emergency declaration and projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were initially listed as potential targets to lose funding, Senator Shaheen has fiercely advocated on behalf of the Shipyard and worked to defend the funding secured by Congress. Senator Shaheen is a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees and has fought tirelessly to provide funding to the Shipyard. The funding for three of the four projects at the Shipyard that the President’s declaration previously threatened were passed by Congress and signed into law in September of 2018.  The fourth project, the Paint, Blast and Rubber facility, was funded in 2017.