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US military authorizes $3.6 billion to build 175 miles of border wall

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper speaks to members of the press during his first joint press conference at the Pentagon Briefing Room, on Aug. 28, 2019. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)
September 04, 2019

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized $3.6 billion in military funding to be reallocated to building 175 miles of the southern border wall.

News of Esper’s formal authorization broke late Tuesday after he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to detail the funding transfer, which will support 11 border wall construction projects that will build 175 miles of wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The authorization officially pulls funding from 127 military construction projects, of which approximately half are domestic and half are overseas projects.

Pentagon officials cannot yet share which military projects are affected until every member of Congress in a district affected by the change is notified. However, officials noted that the projects are merely delayed, not canceled.

In a letter addressed to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe, which was obtained by CNN and other media, Esper wrote, “Based on analysis and advice from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and input from the Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of the Interior and pursuant to the authority granted to me in Section 2808, I have determined that 11 military construction projects, along the international border with Mexico, with an estimated total cost of $3.6 billion, are necessary to support the use of the armed forces in connection with the national emergency.”

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Esper noted that his authorization is afforded under “Section 2808” which allows the fund transfer “without regard to any other provision of the law that may impede the expeditious construction of such projects in response to the national emergency.”

“These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry,” he added.

Esper also noted that the border wall construction would allow military service members to be moved to other areas of security concern.

Earlier this year, President Trump ordered the Pentagon to draw some $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction funds, and pull some $2.5 billion from military counternarcotics programs, as well as $600 million from an asset forfeiture program in the Treasury Department.

The decision was opposed and the matter taken to courts.

In May, a trial court had decided in May to halt the Administration from using the funds.

In July, the Supreme Court decided the Trump Administration could redirect $2.5 billion Pentagon funds for the border wall construction.

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The Court ruled in a 5-4 vote to remove the injunction placed by a lower court, thus allowing the Trump Administration to proceed with using some of the Pentagon funds previously reallocated for the construction of the border wall.

President Trump had issued a national emergency declaration on Feb. 15 requiring that $6.5 billion in funding would be diverted to southern border security.