U.S. defense official confirms more wall to be built on U.S.-Mexico border
An additional $1.5 billion has been approved by the Pentagon to build 80 more miles of wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a top U.S. defense official.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the re-allocation of funds, initially earmarked for support of Afghan security forces and other projects, to assist funding for the southern border wall.
“Today, I authorized the transfer of $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 80 miles of border barrier,” he said.
“The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes, and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness.”
In March, the Pentagon released the first payment of $1 billion to begin construction of the wall.
Shanahan notified Congress that the military funds were authorized and asked that the US Army Corps of Engineers “begin planning and executing” the construction of a 57-mile strip of the barrier along the El Paso and Yuma sections of the US-Mexico border.
Now the combined $2.5 billion is in response to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.
In April, the Department of Defense awarded $976 Million worth of contracts for the construction of the wall.
$789 million was awarded to SLSCO Ltd., a builder based in Galveston, Texas, to replace a border wall in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
And $187 million was awarded to Barnard Construction Co. Inc to reconstruct pedestrian barriers in Yuma, Arizona.
Unhappy Democrats have accused Shanahan of not seeking approval to “reprogram” the funds without seeking congressional authority.
Hurray for Loyal Mexicans!!! Pro-Trump Latinos Stun CNN: We Want a ‘Longer and Taller’ Wall | Neon Nettle https://t.co/VIesttT1Gh
— Herbert Mann (@Herbert_Mann_1) March 19, 2019
According to Fox News: Shanahan and other senior defense officials claimed in response they did not have to get permission from Congress despite the objections from Democratic lawmakers.
Shanahan, who has said he plans to visit the border on Saturday, said that the Pentagon is “fully engaged” in fixing the border crisis.
He stated that more than 4,000 troops and 19 aircraft are assisting Customs and Border Protection personnel.
The funds are being reprogrammed from the Afghan Security Forces Fund; a project focused on chemical weapons, Air Force programs, savings linked to a military retirement system, and coalition aid funds.
The Pentagon is also assumed, at some point, to transfer up to $3.6 billion from military building budgets to pay for wall construction, but details of those plans have yet to be announced.
The move comes after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced Thursday that the president would formally nominate Shanahan to be the next U.S. secretary of defense.
The decision to have Shanahan permanently lead the department “is based upon his outstanding service to the country and his demonstrated ability to lead.”
“Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do so,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday.
Shanahan said he was “honored” by Trump’s decision.
“If confirmed by the Senate, I will continue the aggressive implementation of our National Defense Strategy,” he said.
“I remain committed to modernizing the force, so our remarkable Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have everything they need to keep our military lethal and our country safe.”