- U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan directed the Pentagon to identify by May 10 which military construction projects can be delayed in order to fund $3.6 billion of barrier construction under President Donald Trump’s Feb. 15 declaration of a national emergency at the U.S-Mexico border, according to an April 11 memo obtained by Task & Purpose.
- In the memo to Elaine McCusker, Pentagon comptroller, Shanahan said that family housing, barracks and dormitory projects; projects that have already been awarded; and projects that have Fiscal Year 2019 award dates are off limits, reiterating guidelines from a previous directive. Shanahan also told McCusker to consult with other military officials, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as she compiles the list.
- Shanahan directed McCusker to make the money available, but indicated that he has “not yet decided” whether he will authorize the use of Defense Department funds for construction projects at the U.S. southern border.
Under pressure from some members of Congress, Shanahan last month released a $12.8 billion list of unawarded military construction projects which could reportedly be subject to delays or cancellation, but that list included hands-off projects like housing. Also named were projects authorized as far back as 2015.
Shanahan has said that none of the projects will be canceled if the president’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, which contains a corresponding $3.6 billion line item for military construction, goes through in a timely manner.
The Pentagon has already transferred $1 billion for border wall construction to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), which last week awarded $976 million in contracts for fence and wall replacement, as well as associated improvements to lighting and roads.
The Army Corps awarded a $789 million fixed-price contract for barrier replacement in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, to SLS Ltd., based in Galveston, Texas, and a recipient of other border wall contracts. Taking home another barrier construction contract was Bozeman, Montana-based Barnard Construction. That $187 million design-build project will see the replacement of primary pedestrian wall in Yuma, Arizona.
The $1 billion is from the DOD’s counter-narcotics budget, an amount which Shanahan said would be used to strengthen security at known drug-smuggling corridors. Through the national emergency declaration, the president laid claim to a total of $2.5 billion in counter-drug money.