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Pentagon restores money for Hill Air Force Base project shelved to build the U.S.-Mexican border wall

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Aerial photos of various Salt Lake points of interest including the proposed inland port area. Salt Lake Tribune, downtown, state Capitol, North Salt Lake and Hill Air Force Base.

Washington • When President Donald Trump last year diverted military funds to erect a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, scores of projects across the country were slashed, including two in Utah with a price tag of $54 million.

But now it appears one of the Utah projects is back on.

The Department of Defense has restored money for some domestic military construction, and will instead siphon funds from projects overseas to pour into Trump's planned border fence.

That means the Pentagon will now spend $28 million this year to build a consolidated mission control center for the Utah Test and Training Range, according to U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. The center will be housed at Hill Air Force Base.

“I’ve been working with the Department of Defense for months to make sure this execution of funds happened and welcome this news,” Bishop said this week.

“This is further indication that the DOD realizes the unique value of the Utah Test and Training Range, in conjunction with our missions at Hill Air Force Base, and their effects on our military readiness,” Bishop added. “I’m proud to say that Hill Air Force Base is strong and only getting stronger.”

Trump tapped a Defense Department construction budget last year, funneling $3.6 billion to help build a border wall that was a key campaign promise in 2016, one that he said Mexico would pay for. The move delayed construction of scores of projects in 23 states, three territories and 20 other locations around the world.

Bishop’s office says the Defense Department reviewed the list again and now plans to move forward on 22 of the projects, including the test and training range center. Another Utah construction project, building a Composite Aircraft Antenna Calibration Facility at Hill Air Force Base, remains shelved.

Politico reported that Defense Secretary Mark Esper pulled money for projects scheduled for military bases in Germany, Japan, Norway, Spain and Jordan and then restored $545.5 million in funds for military construction domestically.

Among the projects restored, the news outlet reported, is $160 million for construction at West Point, where Trump is slated to give a commencement address soon and at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, home to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is up for reelection in November.

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