Former President Donald Trump’s border wall is now history and Biden administration is looking to reallocate more $2 billion to military projects. These funds were previously set by Trump administration for border wall construction.
The project of the wall on the U.S. – Mexico border was one of the first projects that was put on hold in the very first days of Biden’s presidency. Biden in January asked for full review of the wall project and funds.
Following the previous decision, Biden administration on Friday announced they are canceling all contracts tied to the wall construction project, funds that were taken from Pentagon budget previously intended for military missions and functions.
Friday’s decision means that more than $2 billion will now be used for their initial purpose. These funds will be used in 16 countries and 11 states for 66 projects including schools for military families, hangars, housing and training facilities, according to the administration.
The decision has brought a lot of public attention especially from Republicans including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. This came just day after he announced initiative to build barriers along the Texas-Mexico border.
“Although most of the funds used for the border wall were diverted from other purposes, Congress provided DHS with some funding for border barrier projects. DHS is legally required to use the funds consistent with their appropriated purpose,” the administration said.
More than 340 miles along the border have been built since 2019. The barriers are built on multiple locations and were funded by Pentagon funds. Almost 52 miles were built where no barrier has previously existed and the cost is roughly $46 million per mile.
“Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds. Most contraband is likely to come through legal ports of entry. And many families fleeing the violence in Central America are voluntarily presenting themselves to border patrol officials,” OMB said in its fact sheet, outlining the announcement.
“We have 20 contracts that we’ve terminated for the government’s convenience. And we’re in negotiations now with each of those 20 vendors to work through what those final bills will be,” Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon testified at a budget hearing with the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development subcommittee.
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus to clean up the construction sites and to address environmental issues. Furthermore, the department will also review the cases of land seizure during the past years and return the land to its prior owners if it’s no longer necessary.
The 2022 budget also includes $1 billion for border infrastructure, but not for wall construction. These funds will be dedicated for technology and security improvements.