Braun: $16M for Crane project deferred, not canceled

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun of Jasper is hopeful that the Indiana military projects on the deferment block to free up funding for the border wall will be funded at a later time.

“Those will be deferred, not eliminated. I think they’ll still be in play” he said Tuesday. “It’s just that something had to give. And the priority is such that for now, we had to divert resources.”

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced the list of projects that would not be funded at this time to divert $3.6 billion of military funding to funding 175 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. That list included $16 million for a railcar holding area at Crane Army Ammunition Plant near Bloomington and an $8 million small arms range for the Air National Guard in Terre Haute.

“That doesn’t mean that it won’t be picked up down the road,” Braun said. “And I hope that Crane and the (Air National Guard) in Terre Haute keep pressing for what is a real need. It will just be deferred for now.”

Herald calls to Crane officials about the matter have not yet been returned.

“I think they understand,” Braun said. “They’ve been, over the recent past, justifying their value in so many ways. And even though it will be disappointing that they can’t do it now, I will be for and encouraging them to keep it out there on the docket so that we still follow through on it.”

Border security is one of the top issues concerning Braun, second only to health care.

“I know it needs a lot of work because of all the illegal crossings we have,” he said. “I think it’s sad that this is how we have to finance putting that border security in place.

“I really believe that we need to secure the border through the methods that are out there: barriers in places where you need them, technology where that would work, personnel where you need that,” Braun added. “We cannot solve all the issues that have been generated until we secure the source of what caused it in the first place.”

He said President Donald Trump has gotten the Mexican government to assist in the problem.

“Feather in President Trump’s cap for what he got the Mexican government to do, with 25,000 troops that’s actually changing the dynamic,” Braun said. “I think a lot of good things are starting to happen.”

Braun could not guarantee that the Indiana projects will for sure receive funding in the future. “There is nothing that is guaranteed. But my understanding is that this is not a cancellation,” he said. “It’s a deferment.”

The list of projects not being funded was released by the Pentagon on Sept. 4. It includes projects in 23 states, 19 countries and three U.S. territories, though just $1.1 billion in cuts would strike the continental U.S. Almost $700 million would come from projects in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, with another $1.8 billion coming from projects on overseas bases.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.




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