Biden would save US $2.6 billion by halting border wall construction: report
President-elect Joe Biden would save the U.S nearly $2.6 billion if he halts construction on the border wall project, The Washington Post reported, citing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates.
U.S. Army Corps commanders met with the Biden transition team last week to discuss the border wall project initiated by President Trump, according to the Post.
Biden has said he would not construct “another foot” of the barrier at the southern border when he assumes office.
The Army Corps’ estimates did not publicly disclose the potential costs of stopping work on the border wall.
“We cannot speculate on what the final cost estimates for undelivered work would be nor speculate about what actions a White House Administration may or may not take,” Corps spokesperson Raini Brunson said in a statement.
The Hill reached out to the Biden-Harris transition team but did not immediately receive a response. The U.S. Army Corps declined to comment Wednesday night.
The Trump administration was able to complete 738 miles of border wall, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It received $15 billion in federal funding for the project, about one-third of which came from Congress as part of the standard appropriations process. The rest was reprogrammed from other areas.
Nearly $3.3 billion in unused funds will remain in the project’s account when Biden begins his term.
Army Corps officials have held a recent series of meetings discussing how to terminate the contracts and what terms can be exercised legally, the Post reported.
The Biden administration will be fully permitted to end or modify contracts with construction firms building the wall, though companies can bill the government for “demobilization” fees which cover costs for crew withdrawal, materials and equipment for the barrier, according to the Post.
Estimates by the Corps anticipate these fees could amount to $700 million.
CBP acting Commissioner Mark Morgan told the press earlier week that Biden’s promise to stop work would be a “waste of taxpayer money” amounting to “billions.”
Morgan listed examples for concerns about wasted taxpayer dollars, saying some steel bollards might be “destroyed” if they aren’t installed in the ground and wall contractors could charge additional fees for refilling trenches if concrete is not poured into them.
“There has been talk about quote ‘not building another foot of wall.’ I want to talk about the reality, not the political reality, but the substantive impact, of stopping construction,” said Morgan. “Let’s consider the cost directly to American taxpayers when we walk away, which will probably be billions of dollars that have already been invested and assigned to a contract.”