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 TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates 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 MattisThis week: House Dems voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' 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 SandersTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires MORE (I-Vt.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker prison reform bill would give older prisoners a 'second look' Booker to unveil plan for older Americans' long-term health care: report Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires Buttigieg: 'Medicare for all,' free college tuition are 'questionable on their merits' MORE (D-Calif.), also urged Mattis to otherwise “curb the unprecedented escalation of DOD involvement in immigration enforcement.”