The Defense Department is diverting funding for an $89 million pier project at Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor to help build $3.6 billion in fencing and barriers along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The Bangor cut is one of 127 military construction projects in 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries that will lose funding to help pay for barriers in Texas, Arizona and California that are part of President Donald Trump’s long-sought border wall.
Although the Pentagon lists the status of these projects as deferred, it will take new action by Congress to secure funding for them, and Trump’s action was criticized in a statement jointly released by Washington Democrats Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Derek Kilmer, of Gig Harbor.
“It is deeply disturbing to see the administration unilaterally raid funds from these vital projects in Washington and across the country to fund an ineffective, completely unnecessary border wall,” the statement said. “Our men and women in uniform deserve better.”
The project funding at Naval Base Kitsap would have been used to build a pier for the Maritime Force Protection Unit, which protects submarines on the way to and from the base, according to the statement.
Other projects scheduled to lose money range from an ammunition-storage facility in Poland to a child-development center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. In Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, they include more than $94 million for boiler repairs and projects at Eielson Air Force Base southeast of Fairbanks and $10.5 million to construct an indoor range and replace fuel facilities for an Air National Guard base in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
The cuts result from a Feb. 15, 2019, declaration by Trump that a national emergency exists at the southern border that requires the use of the armed forces. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized the 11 projects that involve placing and expanding fencing and barriers along the border.
“These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border and channel migrants to ports of entry,” Esper wrote in a memorandum released Wednesday.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Rep. Derek Kilmer once said the pier project would allow all three Navy Seawolf-class submarines to be homeported in Bangor. Kilmer was referring, in a March statement, to another Navy project that was not impacted by the Defense Department action this week.