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Military Funding for Border Wall Approved

Friday, September 6, 2019

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Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper approved $3.6 billion in funding—largely pulled from military construction projects, including housing—to go toward building 175 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Shortly after, the Pentagon released a list of the projects that have been financially deferred.

According to NPR, Democrats immediately voiced their opposition to the plan, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, who said that his district will be impacted due to the presence of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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.

Since then, the government has worked to speed up the project. In October 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that any environmental regulations regarding the construction or repair of a section of the border wall for certain areas in Texas would be waived, drawing ire from environmentalists and private property owners alike. The announcement detailed exemptions in Cameron County; another announcement made the following day detailed similar measures for Hidalgo County.

And 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 President Donald J. Trump last March, were susceptible to breaching. Several million in other contracts for other border wall work had also been awarded elsewhere. In March, the border wall prototypes were demolished.

Toward the end of May, a judge blocked Trump’s use of money originally intended for military funding, for work on the border wall. The injunction only accounted for roughly $1 billion in funding for the border wall, money that the Department of Defense had funneled away from Army personnel to the Department of Homeland Security.

In July, over a week after a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion in funding for the border wall, CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $33 million contract for four miles of border wall work in Texas. Environmental regulations for that section of structure were also waived. Late last month saw the award of another $305 million in contracts.

Recent Funding Developments

According to CNBC, the Pentagon will be pulling funding from 127 Department of Defense projects, which include schools and daycares for military families, impacting the families of personnel across the globe. The move is part of President Donald J. Trump's declaration of a national emergency earlier this year.

A Pentagon official noted that while attempts are being made to find funding to replace what has been diverted, there is no guarantee there will be replacement funding.

The first $1.8 billion of the total will reportedly come from projected located outside of the U.S. As for West Point, $95 million is to be pulled from the construction of the academy’s engineering center, making it the most expensive project to be affected.

"This decision will harm already planned, important projects intended to support our service members at military installations in New York, across the United States, and around the world," Schumer said.

"It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build."

CNN reports that construction is slated to begin within 135 days along sections of the border located on land owned by the government. Other projects could run into 2020 when it comes to dealing with property owned by others, however.

Some of the border wall projects to be built with the diverted funding include:

  • $527 million for the construction of 31 miles of a secondary pedestrian fence system along the Barry M. Goldwater Range;
  • $476 million for the replacement of 23.5 miles of vehicle barriers with new pedestrian fencing in Hidalgo and Luna Counties, New Mexico; and
  • $286 million going toward the construction of roughly 12 miles of new secondary pedestrian fence system in the Calexico area, among other projects.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Defense (DOD); Funding; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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