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Tulsa World editorial: Trump's wall emergency could take funding from local projects

Trump Border Security

President Donald Trump signs the first veto of his presidency in the White House on March 15. Trump issued the veto to protect his emergency declaration for border wall funding. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The local impact of President Trump’s decision to go around Congress in funding $8 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is starting to become clear.

When Congress funded only $1.4 billion of the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for the border wall, the president declared an emergency and said he would transfer money from other appropriated projects.

Defense projects were always thought to be likely sources for the emergency money, and that’s looking increasingly likely. Last week, we found out that Oklahoma military projects were among those that could possibly lose their funding.

 

An $8 million small arms range at the Oklahoma Air National Guard base in Tulsa, a $16 million fire rescue center at Altus Air Force Base and a $7 million diesel system at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant are all potential budget victims, according to a Pentagon memo.

The projects have all been approved by Congress but haven’t been awarded by the Defense Department, which is what makes them prime targets for wall funding.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says the Defense Department list isn’t definitive, but we all know that if those projects don’t lose their money, others certainly will. The money has to come from somewhere.

 

We can’t say that we were breathlessly awaiting the construction of the Air National Guard’s small arms range, but that project is important, and it certainly has one thing going for it that the emergency declaration doesn’t — congressional approval.

Trump’s emergency declaration is under challenge in the federal courts and before Congress. It may well survive, but that doesn’t make it good policy. The president’s supporters need to remember that Trump’s emergency today sets the pattern for the next Democratic president’s emergency down the road, and that might not be a project that seems like such a good idea.

The only proper way to fund a wall is through the congressional appropriations process. Trump acknowledged that when he made his original request and when he included another $8.6 billion in wall funding in his most recent budget proposal. Trump should recognize that his emergency declaration is bad policy and continue his fight for the wall through the appropriate channels.

 

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