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Washington suing Trump over border wall funds taken from military base

The USS Pennsylvania en route to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. It is one of eight ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base. (U.S. Navy, Flickr)

Washington state is suing the Trump administration over the president’s plan to divert money from a Kitsap County military base to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We do need to build a wall,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday. “We need to build a wall to protect what we hold dear, we need to build a wall around the U.S. Constitution so it is not violated by Donald Trump, and we need to build a wall around our sailors to protect them in performance of their duties.”

Money for Trump border wall to come out of crucial Kitsap naval project

Inslee and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit at a press conference Thursday morning. They argued that the president is going around Congress — which has budgetary authority — to get funding for the wall.

The state plans to challenge the Trump administration’s intention to take $89 million from construction projects initially slated for Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Kitsap County. The money was being used build a pier for the Maritime Force Protection Unit. This unit guards submarines coming to and from the base.

The funds will contribute to the $3.6 billion Trump needs to build 175 miles of barriers along the border. President Trump campaigned on a promise that he would force Mexico to pay for a border wall. The current plan, however, is to put up fencing, funded by cuts to projects at 127 military sites in 23 states, three U.S. territories, and 20 countries around the world.

“Make no mistake about it, what he is doing here is reducing our national security,” Inslee said.

“The only real emergency here is the emergency of Donald Trump’s poll numbers continuing to decline, because he continues these hijinks of reducing our ability to protect our people,” he said. “This is something that ought to be looked at as a personal affront to Washington state.”

Washington lawsuits against Trump administration

Ferguson said that the state has three primary arguments. One is based on the Constitution, that gives Congress budgetary authority.

“President Trump can’t get the funding he wants from Congress, so he’s putting Washington at risk to pay for that wall,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson also argues that the president’s plan violates two statutes. He says that to divert funding from a military construction project, that money has to go to another military project, which the border wall is not.

Ferguson also said that the emergency Trump declared over the border is not truly an emergency. He noted that previous national emergencies were declared for issues such as 9/11 and the H1N1 virus.

“By the way, it’s almost seven months after declaring the emergency that he’s now identified those projects (to divert funds from),” Ferguson said.

Since January 2017, Ferguson’s Attorney General’s Office has sued the federal government 47 times; 36 have been filed against the Trump administration specifically. This includes cases led by other states that Washington has joined onto. This new lawsuit will be added to the list.

“Bob is now 21 and 0 — he’s beat the Trump administration 21 times … we are very proud of his work,” Inslee said.

“People ask Bob, ‘When are you going to stop suing the Trump administration?’” Inslee said. “Well we ask: When is the Trump administration going to stop stealing money from the state of Washington and reducing our authority to protect our people?”

According to the AG’s office:

  • Washington has led 18 cases against the federal government
  • Washington has joined 29 cases led by other state attorneys
  • Washington has won 13 cases
  • There are eight cases that have been or could be appealed
  • Washington has lost none of these cases
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