White House Official: List of At-Risk Military Construction Projects Doesn't Exist

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that "it could be a while" before Congress gets a list of military construction projects that would have to be put on hold to fund a proposed wall on the southern border of the United States.

"I know of no list" of military projects whose funding might be diverted to pay for new wall construction, Mulvaney said.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan had testified earlier this month that there was a list of projects potentially affected by border wall funding plans that he was prepared to give the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mulvaney said on CBS' "Face The Nation" program that he knew in general "of the universe of things that might be delayed," but insisted there was no specific list.

He was immediately accused on the same program of playing politics by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, a Senate Armed Services Committee member.

"This is the White House wanting to hold the list back because they worry that if senators and House members saw the potential projects that were going to be ransacked to pay for the president's wall they would lose votes," Kaine said.

He referred to the upcoming vote in the House to override President Donald Trump's Friday veto of House and Senate votes in favor of a "motion of disapproval" of his declaration of a national emergency at the border. The declaration came Feb. 15 as a means to amass more than $8 billion for wall construction from various federal sources, including $3.6 billion from military construction.

On Feb. 26, the House voted 245-182 against the national emergency, and the Senate March 14 voted 59-41 in support of the motion of disapproval, with 12 Republican senators voting against the president's position.

Both votes fell well short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override the veto signed by Trump Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has tentatively set an override vote for March 26, but Mulvaney expressed confidence that the veto would be upheld.

Kaine claimed that the White House would withhold the list until after the House override vote to avoid losing Republican votes from members who would be swayed by the loss or delay of job-producing military projects in their states and districts going into an election year.

"I think they're going to try to hide the list until that veto override vote occurs," Kaine said.

Last Thursday, in a series of testy exchanges on the list at a SASC hearing, Shanahan confirmed that he had a list of military projects that could be impacted by funding of the border wall. When asked if he would turn it over, Shanahan said "Sure," and promised to do so by the end of the day.

However, Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, the ranking SASC member, said that Shanahan telephoned him late Thursday to say that the list was not being forwarded.

In a statement, Reed said Shanahan "informed me he is unable to keep his commitment to share the list of what will be cut to pay for the vanity wall."

"This unacceptable series of evasions should trouble members of Congress, regardless of political party," Reed added.

A spokesman for Shanahan said via email Friday that a list was being worked up and might be forwarded last Friday, but that also did not occur.

In the absence of an official list, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and several other Democrats drew up their own list earlier this month of military construction projects that could be diverted to pay for the wall.

The list consisted of projects with "unobligated" funds, meaning money had been appropriated and contracts awarded, although the money had not already been spent.

The Durbin list ranged from a training facility at Fort Rucker in Alabama to a transient training barracks at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. The list and an accompanying letter to Shanahan can be seen here.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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