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Contractor Offers Cheap Border Wall Construction

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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A North Dakota-based contractor claimed earlier this month that his company could build 234 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall for $1.4 billion, a fraction of the funding the president is requesting. Earlier this month, President Donald J. Trump vetoed Congress’ attempt to reverse his national emergency declaration, along with putting a damper on border wall spending.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Company's President and CEO Tommy Fisher told the Washington Examiner that the government is overpaying for the work. With the wall, paved roads and border technology, along with a warranty included, Fisher claims his company can do all of that for the $4.31 billion that Trump is requesting. Fisher was also one of the companies contracted to build one of the border wall prototypes.

Border Wall Saga

In September 2017, the first border wall contracts were awarded to four different companies to develop prototypes that would work in conjunction with the border in the San Diego area. U.S. special forces spent weeks attempting to breach the eight prototype models of the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, which proved to withstand jackhammers, torches and climbing tools.

tzahiV / Getty Images

A North Dakota-based contractor claimed earlier this month that his company could build 234 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall for $1.4 billion, a fraction of the funding the president is requesting. Earlier this month, President Donald J. Trump vetoed Congress’ attempt to reverse his national emergency declaration, along with putting a damper on border wall spending.

Since then, the government has worked to speed up the project. In March 2018, Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled that the Department of Homeland Security was not overstepping its bounds by expediting border wall construction and waiving environmental rules in the process. The suit had threatened to stall work in Calexico, where a stretch of fence is being replaced, and to delay the larger border-wall project. Otherwise, several hundred million in border wall contracts have been awarded to date.

In October 2018, Homeland Security announced that any environmental regulations regarding the construction or repair of a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall for certain areas in Texas would be waived, drawing ire from environmentalists and private property owners alike. The announcement, made Oct. 10 on the Federal Register, detailed exemptions in Cameron County; another announcement made the following day detailed similar measures for Hidalgo County.

In December 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the beginning of construction of a series of border wall gates in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

But in January, a report revealed that all eight border wall prototypes, inspected by Trump last March, were susceptible to breaching. Several million in other contracts for other border wall work have also been awarded elsewhere. Earlier this month, the border wall prototypes were demolished.

Contractor Challenge

In total, the price tag offered by the Fisher company includes 20 miles of levee wall, located in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, as well as 214 miles of border wall. Fisher also noted that the government doling out these smaller contracts—doing things piecemeal—isn’t “going to cut it.” The $1.375 billion in funding can only be used in the Rio Grande Valley, as noted in the bill passed by Congress. The money was intended to go toward roughly 55 miles of steel slat fencing.

Previously, Fisher had also provided estimates of between roughly $11-12 billion for 700 miles of a cast-in-place concrete border wall.

Presidential Veto

Earlier this month, Trump vetoed Congress’ attempt at reversing the declaration of a national emergency and tightening the reins on spending. According to NPR, Congress currently does not have the votes to override the president’s veto, which means the administration can continue to spend money on the border wall, at least until courts intervene.

After Congress green-lighted $1.3 billion in border wall funding, Trump declared the national emergency. (The president had originally asked for $5.7 billion.) The emergency declaration would allow the president to redirect funds from military construction, along with other areas, to the border wall project.

"I think actually a national emergency was designed for a specific purpose like this, so we have a great case," Trump said. "Ideally, they shouldn't even sue in this case, if you want to know the truth. They shouldn't even be suing, but they will because they always do."

   

Tagged categories: Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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