Georgia lawmakers aren’t sure of the local impact of President Donald Trump’s decision to divert $3.8 billion in defense funding to build the border wall.
Among the announced cuts is a reduction in the order for C-130J cargo aircraft built in Marietta, fewer F-35 stealth fighter planes with parts made in Georgia and a nationwide $1.5 billion reduction to a program that allows Air National Guard and reserves units in each state to purchase equipment.
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, whose district includes Cobb’s military installations, said he has been in contact with the White House since the reductions were announced on Thursday.
“We are working to find ways to fund the border wall and the C-130Js, as both are vital to our national security,” the Cassville Republican said. “Ensuring the men and women serving our country have the most advanced and capable equipment is one of our highest priorities.”
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, called the U.S.-Mexico barrier “wasteful” in a joint statement and blamed Republicans for refusing to adopt language that restricted the White House’s ability to shift dollars to build the multibillion-dollar wall.
“While some of our Republican colleagues will lament the President’s decision, they enabled this theft by blocking our efforts to stop the President from raiding defense accounts,” Lowey, a New York congresswoman, and Visclosky of Indiana said. “Until they stand up to President Trump, our national security will continue to be threatened and our Constitutional system of government will continue to be undermined.”
The president on Thursday notified Congress that he was keeping in place an emergency order he has used to justify funding the wall along the border, saying it is a matter of national security. Members of both parties have criticized him for doing so without congressional approval, but Georgia’s GOP-heavy delegation has refrained.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue, via a spokeswoman, said he blames Democrats for forcing Trump to find workarounds after they refused to allocate money for the barrier in the budget.
The spending plan approved by Congress late last year and signed into law by the president includes $1.4 billion for the wall, less than the $5 billion he requested. The cuts announced Thursday would make up the difference.
“Senator Perdue prefers that the wall at our southern border be funded through the regular appropriations process, but Senate Democrats have been unwilling to work with us to get that done,” Perdue spokeswoman Cherie Gillan said.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler said she is keeping an eye on the situation as she waits for more information about how it will affect Georgia, a state with 11 military zones near its bases.
“My team and I have been in contact with stakeholders that could be impacted by this decision,” she said. “We’re hopeful there is a way to fund the border wall while sustaining thousands of Georgia jobs and our national security.”
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