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Border Wall Proposal Threatens Manufacturers

Defense contractors like Oshkosh may suffer when $3.8B is diverted to build the wall.


A Northeast Wisconsin heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer stands to bear the brunt of tens of millions in proposed spending reductions if the White House gets its way.

Defense contractors are always subject to the whims of global conflict and political considerations, but a new report suggests that orders for hundreds of Oshkosh Corp.-built Army trucks could be a casualty of the administration's efforts to build fencing along the border with Mexico.

The Defense Department recently issued plans to divert more than $3.8 billion to construct 177 miles of fence along the nearly 2,000-mile border. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that most of that funding comes from cancelled aircraft and drone purchases, but more than $100 million would also be diverted from the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck program.

Those trucks are used to carry munitions and other supplies for the Army. Oshkosh has rebuilt more than 12,000 of them over the past 25 years, and received a $232 million contract to revamp more than 400 more early last year.

Oshkosh officials didn’t answer questions about how the changes could impact its operations or payroll, but Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office told the Journal Sentinel that the Trump administration appears to be taking funding from the state’s manufacturing sector for a wall that the president famously promised Mexico would pay for.

Pentagon budget documents, meanwhile, defended the cut by noting that spending hundreds of millions on legacy trucks was inconsistent with its goals of modernizing its tactical vehicle fleet.

Oshkosh is far from the only firm that would be affected under the plan. The company touts more than 700 suppliers, and Fairbanks Morse — another Wisconsin company — was set to make the engines for a Navy ship program that now faces $650 million in cuts under the proposal.

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