Trump Border Security

President Donald Trump speaks at the Rose Garden at the White House. He declared a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 in Washington.

President Donald Trump's plan to use emergency powers to pay for a Mexican border wall involves pulling an estimated $3.5 billion from planned military construction work.

It's unclear whether the wall work would cancel construction projects in Colorado. The Pentagon planned $101 million in Colorado this year, including a vehicle maintenance shop and Special Forces facilities.

The military's construction budget is targeted for wall funding because it is one of the few accounts the president can tap for emergency spending.

A law that dates to the first term of Ronald Reagan allows presidents wide discretion to raid military construction budgets "in the event of a declaration of war or the declaration by the President of a national emergency in accordance with the National Emergencies Act that requires use of the armed forces."

Pulling money from the military construction budget, in most cases, would require the Pentagon to use "unobligated funds." That's money set aside for projects that haven't begun.

Trump defended tapping Defense Department accounts in Rose Garden remarks Friday.

"This is a very small amount of money we are asking for," Trump said.

Like any homeowner, the Defense Department saves up for projects and pays for them once work is complete.

Some construction projects can take years to get off the ground, meaning money allocated by Congress in 2018 could wait until 2020 to get spent.

For 2018, the Army planned more than $900 million in construction projects but had spent just $500 million. That leaves $400 million that's planned for projects, but could be repurposed.

According to Pentagon budget documents, the Defense Department had more than $2 billion in construction money allocated in 2018 that was waiting to be spent.

Of the $10 billion allocated for 2019 construction projects, the Pentagon has spent very little, giving the Trump Administration a wide menu of projects that could be canceled or delayed to pay for the border wall.

But this kind of emergency spending can put the administration in an awkward position with lawmakers. If the president pulls money for the wall at the expense of other work, the Pentagon could find itself going back to Congress for the reauthorization of projects that were already approved.

And even some Trump loyalists in Congress are strongly against Trump raiding Pentagon coffers for the border project.

Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn on Friday said he supports border security, but opposes using Pentagon cash.

"I strongly encourage the president not to go through with diverting funds from military construction accounts to border security," Lamborn said in an email. "Our defense infrastructure was one of the areas hit hardest by the Obama-era defense cuts, and pulling from those accounts will have serious consequences for our military readiness."

Lamborn echoed earlier remarks from the House's top Republican on military issues.

"It should be funded with money designated for that purpose, not with money already allocated for the men and women of America's military," said Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the ranking GOP member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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