Politics

Pentagon Doles Out Nearly $1 Billion In Border Wall Spending Contracts

REUTERS/Jorge Dunes

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

The Department of Defense awarded two military contracts worth almost $1 billion for wall construction on the U.S-Mexico border, the first funds granted since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it awarded a $789 million contract to Texas-based company, SLSCO Ltd. for “border replacement wall construction” in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, according to a news release from the Department of Defense. Additionally, Barnard Construction Co. Inc, a company based in Montana, was given a $187 million contract for a wall replacement project in Yuma, Arizona.

The New Mexico wall will be 30 feet high and include a five-foot anti-climb plate at the top, and is expected to be completed by October 2020. The Arizona project, expected to be done by September 2020, will include 18-foot bollard fencing with the same five-foot anti-climb plate.

The announcement marks the first contracts doled out to construction companies after Trump declared a national emergency in February, a move that allowed him to allocate billions more in funds for border wall spending. The Pentagon informed Congress in March that it had diverted funds to the Army Corps of Engineers for new border walls, upsetting lawmakers from both parties who demanded the Pentagon seek permission from them before altering its budget.

“You are not asking for our permission,” Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said to acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan during a congressional hearing in March. “Now you understand the result of that likely is that the appropriations committee will no longer give the Pentagon reprogramming authority.” (RELATED: More Than 103,000 Migrants Reached Southern Border In March)

U.S. soldiers walk next to the border fence between Mexico and the United States, as migrants are seen walking behind the fence, after crossing illegally into the U.S. to turn themselves in, in El Paso, Texas, U.S., in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez

U.S. soldiers walk next to the border fence between Mexico and the United States, as migrants are seen walking behind the fence, after crossing illegally into the U.S. to turn themselves in, in El Paso, Texas, U.S., in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, April 3, 2019. The writing on the wall reads, “Help us Jesus Christ.” REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Lawmakers have warned that they may take away the Pentagon’s authority to transfer funds in the future.

The Tuesday contracts are likely the beginning of more wall construction projects. The Trump administration, which wants to take its immigration policy into a “tougher direction,” is expected to move forward with a series of new enforcement measures, including the expedition of wall construction along the southern border.

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