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Pentagon awards nearly $1 billion to build Trump's border wall

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 09, 2019

The Defense Department announced Tuesday that it had awarded $976 million in contracts to build President Donald Trump's much-sought-after border wall with a completion date for these projects of October 2020.

A $789 million contract was awarded to the Texas-based company SLSCO Ltd. for the construction of border wall in Santa Teresa, New Mexico which is located in the El Paso sector of the border.

A second $187 million contract was awarded to the Montana-based Barnard Construction Company for work in Yuma, Arizona.

The contracts were awarded by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, told CNN that the El Paso sector contract would include the construction of "30-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate," and that the Yuma Sector project will feature "18-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate."

A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers told CNN last month that the plan was to install 46 miles at El Paso and 11 miles of fencing at Yuma. CNN has reported that DHS had asked the Pentagon for assistance replacing existing vehicle barriers with pedestrian fencing, as well as light installation in El Paso and Yuma.

These are the first border wall contracts to use Pentagon funds that the Trump administration had repurposed from other Defense Department accounts to support the border wall.

CNN previously reported that the contract award was expected as early as Tuesday.

The funds for the contracts are to come from the $1 billion that was recently reprogrammed from Army personnel accounts into the 284 counter-drug account that authorizes border barrier construction.

That reprogramming has been opposed by some lawmakers in Congress, but the Pentagon has said it does not need congressional approval to shift the funds.

As a consequence of the move, Congress has threatened to strip the Pentagon of its ability to transfer funds in the future.

Officials had previously said that if the contracts were awarded in mid-April, construction could begin by late May, depending on whether the Department of Homeland Security issues environmental waivers, which is sometimes done to expedite construction.

The administration has previously said it plans to shift an additional $1.5 billion in Pentagon funds toward wall construction at some point.

That money is separate from the $3.6 billion in military construction funds that the Trump administration has sought to tap into to fund the wall via a national emergency declaration.