WASHINGTON — Lawmakers grilled top Pentagon leaders on why $3.6 billion should be diverted from critical military projects to building a wall.
Senators were frustrated with the Department of Defense officials' unwillingness to say which projects would be impacted.
Maine Senator Angus King seems especially exasperated.
"I mean, something's not computing here," he said. "Either the three-point-six is coming from somewhere, and it's coming from projects that were authorized and appropriated by this Congress, and you won't tell me what they are."
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan was vague in his reply, offering only, "There are no projects in this fiscal year that will be canceled."
Later in the hearing, Shanahan did say the Pentagon would provide a list of cuts, but only after the Senate would vote in the afternoon on the President's national emergency declaration.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine made clear he was unhappy with that answer, asking, "So were they only available in the last half hour?"
"No senator, I think the situation has been misrepresented," Shanahan replied. "There has been no deliberate attempt to withhold information to this committee."
Questions were also raised about the wisdom of canceling the mid-life overhaul and nuclear refueling of the Norfolk-based Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.
"Well, I would say, probably if you all had your druthers, you could get some more money to refuel the Truman," noted Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono. "You would do so, wouldn't you?"
"Again, if I look at it from the military dimension alone ,that would be true," said The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. "But I have to acknowledge the Secretary and the President have broader responsibilities than I do."
"Yes, like building a vanity wall. Thank you," replied Hirono.