Pentagon: Nearly $2.5B in border wall contracts finalized
The Department of Defense (DOD) has finalized nearly $2.5 billion in contracts to build a portion of President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon’s top spokesman said Thursday.
The amount means that, as of this week, 129 miles worth of projects in New Mexico, Arizona and California “has been obligated and is on contract,” Jonathan Hoffman told reporters at the Pentagon.
All but $3 million of that money remains unobligated but will be used before the end of the month, Hoffman said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in April and May had awarded the funding for border wall projects after the Trump administration declared a national emergency and sought to reallocate the money from a DOD fund meant to combat drug trafficking.
The dollars then became caught in a legal battle, with the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in July that the Trump administration could start using the funds to construct a wall while litigation continues to play out.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper also earlier this month authorized $3.6 billion in Pentagon dollars, to be redistributed from military construction projects across the globe, to build 175 miles of wall along the southern border.
To move forward on such wall projects, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Wednesday transferred 560 acres of land to the Army for about 70 miles of barrier in Arizona, California and Texas.
Asked how long it will take to have that $3.6 billion fully contracted out, Hoffman said there was no timeline but acknowledged that “it’s going to take months.”
The administration’s goal is to have completed more than 450 miles of wall construction by the end of 2020, Hoffman added.
“It’ll take a little while, as we do the planning, we buy the property, we do the environmental assessments … and then you’ll see a rapid increase in the amount. Right now, we’re at a pace of about a mile a day and we’ll see that continue to go up,” he said.