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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fairchild project money could be spent on President Trump’s border wall instead

This is the dormitory facility for the U.S. Air Force survival school located at Fairchild Air Force Base west of Spokane. As part of the global war against terror, more than 10,000 students, mostly air crews, go through the survival school, pictured here in 2007, each year. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – A construction project at Fairchild Air Force Base could be put on hold as the Pentagon shifts money to help pay for building a border wall or barrier under the national emergency declaration signed by President Donald Trump.

While no decisions have been made, state officials say they will sue if money is diverted from Fairchild or other Washington projects, and the state’s senior senator called the the possible diversions “outrageous.”

A mission support facility for the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, which trains air crews in survival techniques, is scheduled to receive $14 million this fiscal year. It’s one of three major military construction projects in Washington on the Department of Defense fact sheet that indicates where money might come from to pay for the wall.

Also on the list are $66 million for a project at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Tacoma, $89 million for a pier for Seawolf submarines at Bangor Naval Station and $27 million for a pair of projects at Whidbey Naval Air Station.

The fact sheet has projects totaling more than $12 billion, and the emergency declaration only calls for $3.6 billion in military construction funds to be used for construction along the border. All the projects listed have been approved by Congress, but money hasn’t been spent yet on construction.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson previously said the state would sue if any money appropriated for federal projects in the state is rerouted for the wall. On Tuesday, they said the lawsuit is drafted but won’t be filed unless the final decision taps funding for Washington projects.

“We remain adamant that Washington state will not help subsidize President Trump’s unlawful and unconstitutional ‘emergency’ declaration to build his wall,” they said in a joint statement released by their offices.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, said she’d fight the proposal to redirect the money.

“Whatever anyone thinks about President Trump’s wall, they should be outraged that he wants to raid from critical military assets like Fairchild AFB to pay for it, especially after he promised that Mexico would pick up the tab,” Murray said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

The Pentagon fact sheet said no military projects where money already is being spent or are scheduled for construction to begin this fiscal year are on the list. Replacement money for the selected projects will be included in next year’s Defense Department budget. If Congress approves those requests on time, none of the selected projects would be delayed or canceled, the fact sheet said.