Pentagon awards first border wall contracts for diverted funds

The Pentagon announced Tuesday it had awarded nearly $1 billion in contracts to build President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE’s border wall, with the construction set to end in October 2020.

Texas-based company SLSCO Ltd. was granted a $789 million contract for construction in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, which falls within the El Paso sector of the border. The Army Corps of Engineers also awarded Montana-based Barnard Construction Co. $187 million to build barriers in Yuma, Arizona.

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Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, said in a statement to The Hill that the El Paso contract would help pay for “30-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate” and that the Yuma contract would build “18-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate.” 

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

It had previously been reported that the Department of Defense intends to install 46 miles of additional barriers at El Paso and 11 miles of fencing at Yuma.

The contracts mark the first funds the Pentagon has doled out after Trump declared a national emergency in February to reallocate billions of dollars in federal money to construct additional barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The funds for the contracts come from the nearly $1 billion that was repurposed from Army personnel accounts to help supplement the 284 counter-drug account that authorizes border barrier construction. The money is separate from the $3.6 billion in military construction funds that the national emergency also reprogrammed for the wall. 

The reallocation of the funds has angered some lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have threatened to bar the Pentagon from transferring money in the future.

Trump in recent days has doubled down on his immigration policies, touting progress on wall construction, floating new measures to curtail migrants’ paths to asylum and accepting the resignations of several of the Department of Homeland Security’s top staffers.