To see how this announcement fits into the timeline of border wall construction, click here.
- Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is redirecting a second round of military funds — this one totaling $1.5 billion — toward the construction of infrastructure at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Associated Press reported. The Pentagon transferred $1 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for this purpose in March.
- This latest reallocation includes $604 million from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, $251 million from a program to destroy lethal chemical agents and munitions, $344 million from Air Force contract programs, $224 million from the military retirement system and $78 million from a fund used to reimburse coalition partners that have assisted in U.S. military operations. Most of the money represents savings from these various programs.
- While answering questions from the press at an unrelated event, Shanahan confirmed the transfer of funds but added that this would be the last “reprogramming” of money from the military to the border wall. He also said the shift did not affect readiness and that he was making a trip to the border to evaluate the effectiveness of the military’s initiatives related to the wall, as well as to determine future needs there.
This is the latest move by President Donald Trump’s administration seemingly meant to circumvent Congress' unwillingness to fund border wall construction, at least in the amounts that the president would like.
Since Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border and his quest to tap into at least $8 billion for wall construction, the Pentagon has now handed over $2.5 billion for wall projects and has started to prequalify contractors interested in bidding on $8 billion of future border work such as fencing, wall, patrol and access roads, lighting systems, access gates, levee walls, drainage and other improvements. Just this month, the Army Corps selected 12 contractors to bid on a $5 billion, five-year program of similar work.
In the meantime, the Army Corps and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been busy awarding contracts, mostly to replace segments of dilapidated fence or to improve existing walls and surrounding infrastructure.
And earlier this month, CBP issued a notice asking for public comments before it starts 78 miles of replacement fence in California and Arizona. The agency is asking for input regarding the potential socioeconomic, cultural and environmental impact of the project, but, in the past, DHS has waived any regulation, environmental or otherwise, that would prevent it from proceeding with construction.