Senators condemn Trump decision to divert Klamath Falls military project money to border wall

Oregon’s senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have condemned President Donald Trump’s administration after they announced Wednesday that the Pentagon would divert funding from military construction projects to finance a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Some of that funding had been approved by Congress to pay for an $8 million rifle range and $2.5 million in fuel facility upgrades, both from Kingsley Field, a National Guard base in Klamath Falls.

The Pentagon on Wednesday announced that $3.6 billion worth of military construction projects nationwide would be postponed and the money instead would be funneled into border wall construction, according to an NPR report.

In a joint statement, Wyden and Merkley described the decision as “an abuse of presidential authority and a dereliction of duty.”

“Trump’s border wall is a cruel vanity project, and nothing more,” the statement said. “Americans should not foot the bill, and especially not at the expense of well-vetted projects across the nation that will actually bolster national security. We will fight to restore this funding to Oregon and to continue opposing Trump’s hateful, ineffective border policies.”

Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown also decried the decision in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

NPR reported that Defense Secretary Mark Esper described 11 new projects the funds would be used for, including new pedestrian fencing and barriers in San Diego, replacement of vehicle barriers in El Paso, Texas, and new border fencing in Yuma, Arizona.

Trump declared a national emergency in February to help fund the border wall, which was a key tenet of his 2016 presidential campaign.