BUNKER HILL – Funding for two major construction projects at Grissom Air Reserve Base totaling $21.5 million will not be diverted to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall, but funding for other major military projects in Indiana are set to be siphoned.
The Pentagon last week revealed the full list of $3.6 billion in military construction projects that are being shelved to help build an expanded barrier along the U.S.- Mexico border.
Grissom wasn’t on that list.
The base will now move forward with building a $9.4-million aerial port to support a new squadron housed at the installation. The 12,000-square-foot facility will allow the 49th Aerial Port Squadron more space to move cargo and equipment for both military and humanitarian missions. The squadron is currently sharing a building with another entity at the base.
Another $12.1 million will upgrade one of Grissom’s six airplane hangars. Only one hangar right now is large enough to fit an entire KC-135 Stratotanker inside. Grissom has the largest unit of Stratotankers in the Air Force Reserve Command, and the funding will allow the base to upgrade another hangar to fully accommodate the refueling planes.
“We’re excited to be growing and can’t wait to start turning dirt on these projects,” said Chief Public Affairs Officer Doug Hays. “The updates to the hangar and the new aerial port facility are vital to helping us meet mission requirements.”
But funding for other state projects will be yanked for the border wall, including a $16 million railcar holding area at Crane Army Ammunition Plant near Bloomington and an $8 million small arms range for the Air National Guard in Terre Haute.
Both Indiana’s two Republican U.S. senators say they support the Trump administration’s decision.
Sen. Mike Braun says President Donald Trump’s decision is necessary because the U.S.-Mexican border “has no order to it.”
Sen. Todd Young’s office says he’ll work to restore project funding as soon as possible.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, whose district covers the base, said there is a "national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, and the president is right to take action to address this emergency."
However, Walorski said, she was pleased to learn Grissom's funding will not be shifted for the border wall.
"I have made clear to the administration that Grissom plays a critical role in protecting our national security," she said in a statement. " ... I’m committed to working in Congress and with the administration to ensure our brave men and women in uniform – including those who serve at Grissom – continue to have the resources necessary to defend our nation.”
The move to deter funding came after the Department of Defense in March released a full list of military construction projects that could have been on the chopping block after Trump in February declared a national emergency to build the wall.
The emergency declaration gave the President authorization to use military funds that have already been budgeted for construction projects. The DOD projects that could have been cut or delayed totaled $12.8 billion and were located in nearly every state.
Now, out of those projects, 127 have been selected to fund the wall. More than half of the funding being diverted comes from overseas military projects. In the U.S., 23 states will have project funding reallocated to the border wall.
Twenty states have now joined in a lawsuit to block the emergency declaration, calling it “reckless and unconstitutional,” but the U.S. Supreme Court in July allowed the Trump administration to move forward with building the wall while litigation is ongoing.
That decision allowed the Pentagon to tap funds from military projects for the time being, so work can begin on four contracts that had already been awarded for wall construction along the border.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.