Although Sen. Martha McSally has positioned herself as a champion of the military, she has yet to publicly defend its budget from being siphoned away by President Trump.
The Trump administration was in court this week in another attempt to use funds from the military’s budget to put toward construction of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, according to KJZZ.
Military operations play a big role in Arizona’s economy. A 2017 report found that the state’s six military installations and four National Guard Operations provided over 76,000 jobs and brought in more than $250 million in state and local revenue.
Trump is fighting to redirect $3.8 billion from the Department of Defense’s budget. This is in addition to the $6 billion he siphoned last year, which has already put the F-35 program at Luke Air Force Base and the Marine Corps Air Station at risk. If approved, the budget reduction would pull $156 million from the F-35 program.
The 162nd Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center in Tucson is also expected to feel the effects of Trump’s demands. The National Guard and Reserve Equipment budget, which funds the test center, would lose $1.3 billion to the border wall project.
Although money for Arizona-based military projects could face cuts due to the shift, Republican Sen. Martha McSally has yet to publicly speak up for them.
McSally, who served in the Air Force for 22 years and was the country’s first woman to both fly a fighter plane in combat and command a fighter squadron, has positioned herself as a champion of the military. As recently as December 2019, she commented on the importance of the government letting service members know “we have their backs.”
However, she has yet to speak up for the projects at risk, and she did not immediately respond to The Copper Courier’s request for comment.
This is not the first time the senator has stood by similar moves by the Trump Administration. Last year, a $30 million construction project was cut at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona due to budget shifts toward the border wall. McSally urged the Army to protect the fort, but she ultimately voted to allow the reallocation to happen.
She later explained her vote in a telephone town hall, saying the project had already been delayed due to environmental cleanup and that it would soon be back on track. The cleanup was expected to be finished this August, but the project’s future is still uncertain, as it failed to get its funding back with last year’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Other members of Congress representing Arizona have spoken out against Trump’s proposal. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has criticized the newest round of cuts, saying they “unnecessarily risk resources for Arizona servicemembers and national security.”
Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick also called Trump’s funding shift a “raid.”
“The President is now trying to steal money from our National Guard to pay for his vanity wall project,” she said in a statement to Arizona Public Media.
As for the final outcome, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that heard the Trump administration’s arguments Tuesday did not say when it will rule.