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 TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment 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 MattisFormer Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy Former staffer hits back at Mattis's office over criticism of tell-all book Former speechwriter for General James Mattis: Has the national security state grappled with Donald Trump? 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 SandersTech firms face skepticism over California housing response Press: Another billionaire need not apply Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick mulling 2020 run: report MORE (I-Vt.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump demands Bidens testify MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPress: Another billionaire need not apply Saagar Enjeti dismisses Warren, Klobuchar claims of sexism New book questions Harris's record on big banks MORE (D-Calif.), also urged Mattis to otherwise “curb the unprecedented escalation of DOD involvement in immigration enforcement.”