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Pentagon estimates border troop deployment to cost $72M

The Pentagon estimates that the deployment of roughly 5,900 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border will cost $72 million, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) spokesman.

The total cost of the operation “has yet to be determined and will depend on the total size, duration, and scope of the DoD support to [the Department of Homeland Security],” Col. Rob Manning said in a statement late Tuesday, adding that the current cost estimate “to deploy, operate, sustain, and redeploy forces is approximately $72 million.”

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The estimate is based on the “current phased force laydown of approximately 5,900" active-duty service members staying at the southern border through Dec. 15, he said.

Manning added that the estimate “includes only those DoD forces and support requested and approved" as of Nov. 19.

Democratic lawmakers in the past week have upped the pressure on the Trump administration to provide answers on the troop deployment, which was ordered by President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE shortly before the midterm elections in November as a caravan of Central American migrants moved northward through Mexico.

Democrats and former uniformed leaders have accused the president of injecting partisan politics into the armed forces and not showing enough support for troops serving in combat.

A group of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Biden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties MORE calling for a briefing and written justification from the military for the deployment.

The signatories, which included likely Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal MORE (I-Vt.), Cory BookerCory BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden officially clinches Electoral College votes with California certification Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs MORE (D-Calif.), also urged Mattis to otherwise “curb the unprecedented escalation of DOD involvement in immigration enforcement.”