Trump's border wall money may come at expense of schools for military kids

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump's much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers.

The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected.

Around 10 percent of the list relates to educational establishments and includes school buildings for the children of service members in places like Germany, Japan, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration's oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House's desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues.

However, of the $1.2 billion in projects related to education, approximately $800 million worth are far in the future, and those funds could readily be used for wall construction and replaced later.

The Pentagon told Congress that just because a project was listed, it "does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used" as a funding source to build sections of the border wall.

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One of the meeting rooms where US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other senior US military officials conduct confidential meetings is seen inside the Pentagon, February 14, 2012, in Washington, DC. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk through a newly-renovated corridor at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. It took 17 years and $4.5 billion to complete the Pentagon makeover, the first full-scale renovation of one of the world's largest office buildings. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A newly-renovated corridor leading to a ramp is seen at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Ramps were used instead of elevators to connect floors in the original construction of the Pentagon in order to conserve steel. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A memorial to fallen soldiers is seen at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. It took 17 years and $4.5 billion to complete the Pentagon makeover, the first full-scale renovation of one of the world's largest office buildings. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People sit in the newly-renovated food court at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. It took 17 years and $4.5 billion to complete the Pentagon makeover, the first full-scale renovation of one of the world's largest office buildings. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Department of Defense workers sit in the newly-renovated food court at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. It took 17 years and $4.5 billion to complete the Pentagon makeover, the first full-scale renovation of one of the world's largest office buildings. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A memorial for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks stands at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. The Sept. 11 attack killed 184 people, including 125 in the building and 59 on American Airlines Flight 77, and destroyed nearly all of the progress on the overhaul of the first wedge. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A newly-renovated corridor leading to a ramp is seen at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Ramps were used instead of elevators to connect floors in the original construction of the Pentagon in order to conserve steel. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A worker stands inside the newly-renovated dining room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. It took 17 years and $4.5 billion to complete the Pentagon makeover, the first full-scale renovation of one of the world's largest office buildings. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People sit in the newly-renovated food court at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. It took 17 years and $4.5 billion to complete the Pentagon makeover, the first full-scale renovation of one of the world's largest office buildings. Photographer: Rich Clement/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ARLINGTON, VA - May 17: Anzus Corridor in A-Ring in the new Pentagon renovation, Tuesday May 17, 2011. (Photo by Dayna Smith/for the Washington Post)
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Trump earlier in March asked for $8.6 billion in his 2020 budget request to help pay for his promised wall on the U.S-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. It drew swift criticism from Democrats.

He declared a national emergency in a bid to fund the wall without congressional approval, a move that allows his administration to use money from the military construction budget, if needed.

In a tense Congressional hearing last week, Democratic senators demanded that they be provided a list of military funds that could be utilized to fund wall construction.

Military officials have vowed that they would not use any funds from military housing. A recent Reuters investigation https://reut.rs/2t1Y2UA found thousands of U.S. military families were subjected to serious health and safety hazards in on-base housing, prompting moves from lawmakers to improve landlord controls.

But elementary and middle schools on bases around the world serving military families are at risk of suffering from the funding diversion, as well as a new engineering building and parking garage at West Point, the Army's military academy in New York state.

Joint Base Andrews, where the president's Air Force jet is based, was slated to receive $13 million for a "Child Development Center," but funding for that project is on the list.

The base currently has three child development centers serving the 12,000 to 14,000 active and reserve military stationed there.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Chris Sanders and Rosalba O'Brien)

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