Are federal infrastructure funding and the Corps of Engineers’ budget safe from President Trump’s border wall?
As part of Trump’s deal with Congress that ended the partial shutdown and allowed the rest of the government to be funded, Congress allocated $1.37 billion for border fencing and expenses—not enough by itself to fund the wall that Trump has in mind. In addition, that $1.37 billion would specifically not allow construction of new wall prototypes proposed by Trump and would instead put money toward 55 miles of bollard fencing. Trump had previously asked for $5.7 billion.
Trump and his team have been looking around for funds to complete his wall project in the absence of direct authorization from Congress.
Some early rumors suggested that the White House might raid unused Corps of Engineers funding for disaster relief to Puerto Rico and elsewhere, but officials denied it after an outcry.
They have hit on the idea of using the president’s power to declare a national emergency in order to shift already authorized money from other parts of the Army’s budget. But 16 states immediately filed suit to block any use of national emergency money for the wall, and the suits are likely to take months or years to resolve.
While Trump’s team waits for the results of those lawsuits, a senior White House official told news sources that the administration’s plan calls for redirected money to be pulled from the following areas:
• $1.375 billion from the Homeland Security appropriations bill;
• $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund;
• $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s drug interdiction program; and
• $3.6 billion from the Department of Defense’s military construction account.
This publication takes no position on issues like the border wall that don’t directly affect inland navigation. But we are concerned that already-appropriated money for other badly needed civil works and infrastructure projects not be adversely affected by the wall plans or controversies.
Whatever the issues at the border, our crumbling lock and dam infrastructure remains just as urgent an issue for the health of America’s transport system and its continuing economic competitiveness. It should not be forgotten or relegated to second place, nor should its funds be raided.