Durbin Meets With Chief Of National Guard To Discuss Trump Admin Diversion Of Funding To Border Wall

In Today’s Meeting, Durbin Also Urged General Lengyel To Identify A Flying Mission For 183d Wing In Springfield

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, today met with General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, to discuss the Department of Defense’s (DoD) short sighted and dangerous transfer of $1.3 billion from the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA) to be used to build part of President Donald Trump’s ineffective wall on the southwest border.  This funding diversion was part of the recent $3.8 billion that was diverted from the DoD to the southwest border. 

Last week, Durbin introduced the Restoring Military Priorities Act of 2020, a bill to reverse and restore this funding transfer.  The bill also reduces DoD’s transfer authority so that DoD cannot turn around and try to divert additional funding for President Trump’s border wall.  Currently, there is no other process at hand to reverse SUCH a reprogramming.

Durbin also pressed General Lengyel on the DoD’s decision to divert $169 million appropriated for Air Guard C-130Js for the construction of President Trump’s wall on our southern border.  This funding was also part of the recent notification of the transfer of $3.8 billion.  This short-sighted reprogramming targets the men and women of the National Guard across the country, including those in the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Illinois.  Last week, Durbin led a delegation letter urging the DoD to reconsider this foolish decision and refocus its mission on national security.

“In today’s meeting, I shared my frustration and disappointment in the Trump Administration’s decision to prioritize the President’s campaign promise of a wall on the southern border over the perennially-underfunded Army National Guard.  Our highest priority must be to ensure that our citizen-soldiers are prepared to respond to disasters, both overseas and at home,” Durbin said.  “Not only does this short-sighted reprogramming target the men and women of the National Guard across the country, but it also hurts my constituents in Illinois, including at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria.”

In today’s meeting, Durbin also pushed General Lengyel to strongly consider transitioning the 183d Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard in Springfield, Illinois, from its current mission set into a true operational wing with a flying mission.  Last summer, Durbin led a delegation letter to General Lengyel on this issue, stating that transitioning the 183d back to flying status could be a key component towards reaching the Air Force’s goals of increasing its total force from 312 to 386 squadrons.

Durbin continued, “I also urged General Lengyel to consider the 183d Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard in Springfield as a top candidate to return to a flying mission.  I told the General that my office stands ready to support any efforts made to advance this initiative.”

A photo of today’s meeting is available here.

In Spring of 2019, the Defense Department transferred $2.5 billion in funding to be used to build part of President Trump’s border wall, and the President later raided $3.6 billion more in military construction funds for his wall as well.

In January, it was reported that President Trump intends to raid $7.2 billion in DoD funds this year to pay for his wall, diverting funding from military families and forcing American taxpayers to pay for his vanity project and failed campaign promise.