Sullivan: Trump’s emergency wall money ‘probably legal’

Rep. Josh Revak and Sen. Click Bishop escort U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan to the state House Chamber to deliver his 2019 address to the Legislature. Photo by Skip Gray/360 North

“Probably legal” – That’s U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan’s opinion on the emergency President Trump declared to redirect money to the southern border. But Sullivan is worried about the projects the money will be diverted from.

“I would have concerns, particularly if it’s coming out of Alaska military construction, which is not only important for our state,” Sullivan told reporters in Juneau Thursday. “It’s really important for the national security of our country.”

In his annual address to the state Legislature, Sullivan highlighted military spending in Alaska as a reason to hope the state’s economy is finally on the rise.

“In just the past three and a half years, Sen. Murkowski, Congressman Young and I have been able to secure over $1.3 billion in military construction for our state, including the F-35s to Eielson and a new missile field at Fort Greely,” Sullivan said, to ringing applause.

Sullivan did not mention in his speech that some of that money could be sent instead to the southern border, because when Trump declared the emergency, the White House announced his intention take $3.6 billion from military construction accounts.

At a press conference after his address, a reporter asked Sullivan about Trump’s emergency declaration.

“It’s probably legal but I don’t think it was needed,” Sullivan said, referring to other money Trump can spend without an emergency declaration.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan delivers his 2019 address to the Alaska Legislature. Photo by Skip Gray/360 North

Sullivan called the situation at the border a “crisis.”

I’ve been supportive of the president’s request for robust funding for barriers, fences, the wall, border security – however you want to describe it.” Sullivan said.

He said he’s inquired about the Alaska projects and he’s drafting a letter to the White House.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski addressed the Legislature Tuesday. She expressed reservations about the emergency declaration, and about some of the budget cuts Gov. Mike Dunleavy is proposing. Sullivan told a reporter he wasn’t going to weigh in on the governor’s budget.

He did, though, highlight the advantage of retaining state expenditures that leverage more federal money, like for certain transportation projects.

“We’re close to 700 million coming to the state of Alaska from federal highway dollars,” Sullivan said. “It was a really good bill that Don Young and Senator Murkowski and I got done for the state. I think the match there is 10 percent. You would probably think that’s a good investment by the state.”

Sullivan recounted for the Legislature many of the goals he and the rest of the Congressional delegation achieved, particularly when it comes to resource development. He calls the annual address the most important speech he gives all year.