WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s decision to take some $3.6 billion out of military construction projects approved by Congress last year to spend on a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has spurred Ohio lawmakers to worry that the state’s own military construction projects will be at risk.

Congress last year approved $61 million for the first installment of a $182 million building housed at aiming the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It also approved $15 million to replace aircraft hangars at the 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Air National Guard Base as well as $8.8 million for base security at Youngstown Air Reserve Station and $7.4 million for a new machine gun range at Ravenna.

Now, presumably, unless a contractor has been hired, any and all of those projects could be at risk.

Rep. Mike Turner, R–Dayton, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he “strongly” believes that “securing our border should not be done at the expense of previously funded military construction projects.” He said it is “a dangerous precedent” for Trump to declare a national emergency “because Congress refuses to provide necessary funding to protect our country.”

“This is insanity,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Niles, a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s military construction subcommittee.

“I’m not one to run around with my hair on fire about Donald Trump, but for him to completely try to take the power of the purse away from the Congress of the United States is a power grab of immense proportions.”

He said the projects at risk of being scuttled because of the border wall “are the kind of projects — whether they’re in northeast Ohio or somewhere else that are part of a long–term strategic plan for the military to make sure the men and women have the kind of facilities they need.”

Democratic Columbus-area Rep. Joyce Beatty said, "I believe his unilateral move is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distort the facts and circumvent the will of Congress so that he can deliver on his campaign promise to build a border wall. No matter, this executive order will very likely cause extensive litigation in the courts, where I am hopeful it will be overruled.”

For Dayton, the emergency declaration endangers a building that will house one of the gems of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the state’s largest single–site employers.

Members of the Dayton Development Coalition, a regional organization that fights for Wright-Patterson and other regional projects, confirmed Friday that the money has not yet been obligated, meaning it could be used for the border wall.

“The NASIC intelligence facility construction project at Wright–Patterson project is critically important to national security and must be funded without delay as Congress intended,” said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “Our congressional delegation fought hard for this. Reallocating funds already approved for this project is not acceptable.”

Turner, whose district includes Wright–Patterson, fought for the money for the new NASIC building. His office released a letter he co–signed last week to Trump last week warning that “diverting funding from ongoing or planned projects would be incredibly harmful and put us back on a path our military cannot afford to travel again after so much progress has been made under your watch.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D–Ohio, meanwhile said “any effort to take funding away from our military to support the president’s vanity project is reckless and irresponsible.” He said federal workers such as those at Wright–Patterson “have already suffered enough because of President Trump’s shutdown.”

He added in a tweet: "Donald Trump is the real national emergency."

By contrast, Rep. Steve Stivers, R–Upper Arlington, a brigadier general with the Ohio National Guard and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he support Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency.

"I would have preferred for Congress to find a legislative solution to securing our border, but the president has taken action, and I support that action,” he said.

“I believe there is unused money to be found for construction from previous years — funds that were not spent on past projects — and therefore current projects would not be impacted. I am hopeful that unused funds are prioritized because ongoing, innovative efforts at bases including Wright-Patterson must be protected."

Any approved military construction project would be at risk if it has not yet been obligated — basically, if they haven’t hired a contractor to begin the work, said Michael Gessel of the Dayton Development Coalition.

While presidents have occasionally used their authority to “reprogram” or move money from one account to another within specific agencies, it’s extremely rare to move money from one federal agency to another, as Trump would do to build the wall. In order to legally do so, Trump must either declare war or a national emergency.

Thursday, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat who represents the Toledo Air National Guard Base, said she was “deeply concerned” about Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border as justification for building a wall.

“Let me be clear: the situation at the border is not a national emergency,” she said, saying Congress “cannot allow the president to pick the pockets of DOD, canceling high-priority military construction in communities at home and abroad, thereby eroding training, readiness, and quality of life for our troops.”

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