Tester: President’s Emergency Declaration Could Raid Military Resources, Hurt Montana’s Military Community

Senator slams President for robbing military budget, risking national security for Emergency Declaration; Projects at Malmstrom Air Force Base could be affected

(U.S. Senate) – Taking aim at President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration as the Senate prepared to reject it on a bipartisan basis, U.S. Senator Jon Tester condemned the Administration’s plan to siphon billions of dollars from the Military Construction budget in order to pay for a border wall.

The President’s emergency declaration could raid money from ongoing military construction projects across the country, including projects at Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Montana Air National Guard, both located in Great Falls.

“Malmstrom is in critical need of a Weapons Generation Facility, and I have been fighting for years to ensure this project was included among the Air Force’s top military construction priorities.” Tester said. “But now we have to tell them that this critical project – which the Air Force has said they desperately need – could very well get kicked back down the list of priorities because the President would rather spend billions of military construction dollars on his wall.”

Tester continued: “I hope my colleagues who vote for this plan are on the first plane back home to explain to their constituents why they shirked their basic duties. Explain to communities like Great Falls why they are ripping investments out of their town. And explain to our future leaders why it is ok to follow the Constitution only when it is politically expedient.”

The Administration announced that it will be taking $3.6 billion from the military construction budget to pay for the wall by using the National Emergency Declaration. This budget funds a wide range of projects across the United States which are consistently backlogged due to budget constraints.

Tester questioned leaders of the Air Force, National Guard Bureau, and Marine Corps to find out how military construction funding may be impacted by the national emergency declaration. Each presented Tester with different funding priorities, all of which may be impacted by the President’s plan:

  • Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson at a hearing Wednesday told Tester that $235 million for a new Weapons Generation Facility would be included in the 2020 budget for Malmstrom but was unable to guarantee that this funding would be unaffected by the President’s emergency declaration.
  • Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller told Tester that many military structures damaged by Hurricane Florence are still in desperate need of repair.
  • National Guard Bureau Chief General Joseph Lengyel discussed the need to recapitalize C-130H aircraft for new C-130J models.

Tester has been a champion for military construction projects in Montana. He appropriated $9 million to build a new aircraft apron for the Montana Air National Guard’s C-130s. He also helped secure $258 million to replace Malmstrom’s aging UH-1N “Huey” helicopters. Last year, Tester was awarded the Harry S. Truman Award for Distinguished Service by the United States National Guard Association for his work to secure the National Guard with the equipment, care, and benefits they need.

Tester stood up for Montana’s military community by voting to overturn the President’s emergency declaration. He was the only member of Montana’s Congressional Delegation to support the measure.

You can watch Tester’s speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate HERE.