A plea to Lee Zeldin: Stand up for our Troops | Perry Gershon for Congress
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A plea to Lee Zeldin: Stand up for our Troops

A plea to Lee Zeldin: Stand up for our Troops

The Times of Middle Country

In the Times of Middle Country, Perry calls on Lee Zeldin to stand up for America's troops by fighting the Trump administration's plan to defund military bases:

I have long been resigned to the fact that Donald Trump (R) would forward the bill for his cruel vanity project to the taxpayers of Long Island. Mexico was never going to pay for the wall. But I was still shocked by last week’s announcement that Trump had severely raided the military budget to pay for a portion of the border fencing.

At issue: Congress allocates around $8 billion a year for the Department of Defense to spend, at its discretion, on construction projects "necessary to support the use of the armed forces." Historically, this means base upgrades (such as improving their security), crisis response capability or family support facilities (such as schools for the families of our troops).

Operating with his usual disdain for his constitutionally defined role, and unable to force the House of Representatives to fund his wall, Trump poached nearly half of this year’s military construction budget––a full $3.6 billion––and redirected it to 11 sites on the border, in order to erect 174 miles of "fencing". Details of this "redirection" came out last week.

The need for border security is a different discussion - Congress authorized funds specifically to support our military, including and perhaps especially our active troops - and Trump has taken this money away.

Examples of projects deemed less "necessary": A fire/crash/rescue station at Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, a cyber operations facility at Virginia's Joint Base Langley-Eustis, renovations for the ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, among dozens of other axed projects once deemed essential by Trump's own appointees. On the whole, New York is due to be deprived of $160 million, the greatest quantity of any individual U.S. state.

The ghastliest cut of all is Trump’s decision to put the lives and education of our service member’s children at risk. Renovations or replacements for eight schools for dependents of military personnel, scattered across multiple continues, were canceled. Trump decreed that children at Spangdahlem Elementary School in Germany will continue to spend five days a week in a building with faulty electrical equipment, fire alarms, air conditioning and security systems. No Long Island parent would feel safe sending their kid to a school with “missing exit lighting, aging fire alarm systems, doors without closers leading to corridors, and missing visual alarms,” so why are we willing to tolerate our president forcing the students of Stuttgart Army Base to contend with the same? It is an utter betrayal of our men and women in uniform.

And my family has personal experience with these schools. The Fort Campbell middle school in Kentucky, which has provided services for well over half a century, is losing $62 million earmarked to relieve classroom overcrowding. My mom attended eighth grade at Fort Campbell while my grandfather was on active duty, and the quality education she received helped her on her way to her own life of service in medicine. To this day, my mom talks about the education and integrated classrooms from her Army base schools.

Thankfully, there is a mechanism by which patriotic citizens can find recourse: Per our Constitution, Congress sets the parameters by which its money is spent. Congress may amend the president's "construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency," and constrain Trump's ability to subvert congressional funding authorization.

Among the dozens of senators and representatives who served in uniform before coming to Washington, D.C., is Rep. Lee Zeldin (R), NY-1's currently elected congressman.

Rep. Zeldin, I ask you this not as a Democrat, nor as a congressional candidate, but as a father and as a member of a family with a long and proud history of military service. For the sake of your fellow Americans in uniform, and their children, stand up to Trump. Work across the aisle, with veterans from across the political spectrum, to assemble a veto-proof majority. You have the power to act. You asked Long Island to send a vet to Congress. Will you ensure that our tax dollars are restored to the people who deserve them, and not thrown away senselessly in the desert? Will you uphold the responsibilities assigned to your office by the Constitution? Military families are depending on it.

Posted on September 13, 2019.

For 25 years, I have been a common-sense businessman — not a career politician — so I look at things differently. I know about fixing dysfunction. It starts with hard work, a commitment to results, and perseverance — not scoring cheap political points. We can work together to provide opportunity and create an economy that works for all of us.

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