U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) today issued the following statements after the Air Force informed both senators that funding appropriated by Congress for military construction projects at Hill Air Force Base would instead be spent to construct a wall on the southern border, as a result of the February 2019 emergency declaration. Romney and Lee previously urged the Department of Defense to protect funding for these Utah projects.
“In April, Senator Lee and I expressed our significant concerns to the Secretary of Defense regarding the potential diversion of funds for critical military construction projects in Utah,” Romney said. “I’m disappointed that despite those concerns, two key military construction projects totaling $54 million will be delayed as a result of the February 2019 emergency declaration. Funding the border wall is an important priority, and the Executive Branch should use the appropriate channels in Congress, rather than divert already appropriated funding away from military construction projects and therefore undermining military readiness. Congress will have an opportunity to restore this funding in the next budget cycle, and I plan to work with the delegation to fight for funding for these projects, which are essential to Utah’s service members and our national security strategy.”
“Congress has been ceding far too much powers to the executive branch for decades and it is far past time for Congress to restore the proper balance of power between the three branches,” Lee said. “We should start that process by passing the ARTICLE ONE Act, which would correct the imbalances caused by the National Emergencies Act.”
The Air Force informed Senators Romney and Lee that $26 million was being diverted from Hill AFB Composite Aircraft Antenna Calibration Facility and another $28 million from the Utah Test and Training Range Consolidated Mission Control Center. The Administration has indicated it plans to request replacement funding for these projects in its FY2020 budget request. Congress would then have to re-appropriate the funds.
The ARTICLE ONE Act, introduced by Senator Lee and cosponsored by Senator Romney, would automatically end all future emergency declarations made pursuant to the NEA after 30 days unless Congress voted affirmatively to extend the emergency. Currently Congress can cancel an emergency declaration only by passing a resolution that can withstand a presidential veto.