Enough funding has been placed on contract to build 256 miles of barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan told Congress Wednesday.
Testifying at the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee, Shanahan also estimated about a half-mile a day of border barriers would be built over the next six months.
“We now have on contract sufficient funds to build about 256 miles of barrier,” Shanahan told Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The source of the funding, Shanahan added, is Homeland Security border funding, diverted Pentagon money and Treasury forfeiture funds.
“How you will see this materialize in the next six months is that about 63 additional new miles of wall will come online,” he said. “So about a half a mile a day will be produced.”
President Donald Trump roiled Congress by moving to divert billions of dollars toward his signature border wall, including $3.6 billion in military construction funds. The Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget requests $7.2 billion for the border, split evenly between backfilling raided military construction projects and funds for new barriers.
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Last month, the Pentagon awarded two contracts for nearly $1 billion for border barrier construction.
Equally controversial is the administration’s troop deployment to the Southern border. And Shanahan told appropriators there are now 4,364 Guard and active-duty troops on the border.
Shanahan defended the deployments as not affecting military readiness, but he and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford added the Pentagon lent staff, including a two-star general, to the Homeland Security Department to help coordinate a “more predictable comprehensive plan” for controlling the border.
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