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Trump to waive federal contracting laws to speed construction of border wall

The Trump administration is waiving certain procurement regulations to help speed up construction on the border wall.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Tuesday that 177 miles of wall — a distance that includes stretches of the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — will be able to be built faster because of the waivers. The waivers affect 10 statutes, including requirements for open competition and justifying selections, The Associated Press reported.

“Working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security is exercising its Congressionally-granted authority to waive procurement regulations in six high-traffic border sectors, which will allow us to use already vetted and experienced contractors to build an additional 177 miles of new border wall system,” DHS spokesperson Heather Swift said.

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Swift added that Border Patrol had seized 54,000 pounds of narcotics and apprehended 36,000 at the border in January.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfBusiness groups, universities file lawsuit over new rules targeting H-1B visas US extends Mexico, Canada border closures House Democrats ask DHS to consider flu vaccinations for immigration detainees MORE said Tuesday on "Fox & Friends" that he is able to order such waivers under a 2005 law that grants the DHS chief considerable purview to waive laws for building border barriers.

"Today, we're going to start waiving those for procurement-related regulations and laws as well, which allow us to speed up a lot of our contracts that the Army Corps has, anywhere from 30 to 45 to 60 days," Wolf said.

"We hope that that will accelerate some of the construction that's going along the southwest border," he added.

While such waivers have been used before to skirt around environmental impact reviews, this is the first time they have been used to sidestep federal procurement rules.

The White House now expects that 94 miles of border wall will be able to be constructed this year, bringing the total to almost 450 miles since President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE took office, a benchmark that has been long touted by the administration.

The waivers will apply to six of the nine Border Patrol sectors along the Mexican border: California's San Diego and El Centro, Arizona's Yuma and Tucson, Texas's Del Rio, and El Paso, which includes portions of Texas and New Mexico. 

Updated at 10:15 a.m.