UPDATED 4:35 p.m. | Sen. Dick Durbin says he wants to know if an Air National Guard firehouse project in Peoria is among those put at risk by the president’s push for a border wall.
After being partially rebuffed by Congress, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to free up billions of dollars for construction of the long-promised wall. The president says he plans to allocate a total of $8 billion to the wall, including redirecting $3.6 billion in military construction funds and $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense's counter-drug activities.
Durbin, the senior Democratic senator from Illinois, recently sent a letter to the Department of Defense asking for specifics on which pending military construction projects will be impacted and how that would impact military readiness. The letter included a list of military construction projects with unobligated balances and was co-signed by nine other Democratic senators.
“We request that you provide to us the list of the projects deemed less important than building a wall along the southern border, along with the military criteria used to justify those decisions,” they wrote.
One of the projects on Durbin’s list is the 182nd Airlift Wing’s new $9 million firehouse, which would also serve Peoria International Airport. U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, a Peoria Republican, secured funding for the project last fall, calling it “vital to the safety” of the airport. It would replace an aging facility built in 1992 and allow for the storage of all fire service equipment, safer air quality, and separate sleeping facilities for those who serve at the fire station.
“We have strong concerns about hitting the pause button on such readiness initiatives that Congress already approved when it exercised its constitutional appropriations prerogative,” the senators wrote.
Trump’s emergency declaration faces several legal challenges, including a lawsuit from the state of Illinois.
“Congressman LaHood has fought hard to secure funding for the 182nd and will continue to advocate for necessary resources," said LaHood spokesperson J.D. Dalfonso. "While financing questions are being worked through to address the humanitarian crisis and national emergency at the border, Rep. LaHood continues to communicate with the dministration and is emphasizing the importance of the 182nd fire station project.”
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