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Biden administration to return $ 2 billion to military projects that had been earmarked for the construction of the border wall

In one of his first actions in office, President Joe Biden ordered a break in the construction of the wall and called for a review of projects and funds. Friday’s announcement builds on the Biden administration’s decision to cancel all contracts to build walls on the US-Mexico border that used funds originally intended for military missions and functions.

The administration is now taking steps to send billions of funds back to the Pentagon, so that they can be used for their original purpose. This includes returning military construction funds to 66 previously deferred projects in 11 states, 3 territories and 16 countries.

According to the OMB, the move will restore funds for schools, hangars, housing and facilities at the base, including more than $ 10 million for the expansion of the missile field at Fort Greely in Alaska and 79 million dollars for an elementary school for the children of the US military. in Germany.

The Biden administration’s decision to stop construction drew criticism from Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. At a border security summit in Del Rio, Texas on Thursday, Abbott announced an initiative to build barriers along the Texas-Mexico border.

As of 2019, more than 340 miles have been built at multiple locations along the border using Pentagon funds, according to US Customs and Border Protection. And about 52 miles were built where no barrier existed before. Some wall segments cost as much as $ 46 million per mile, according to the OMB.

“Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs US taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious political solution or a responsible use of federal funds. Most contraband will likely pass through legal ports of entry. And many families fleeing violence in Central America are voluntarily reporting to border patrol officers, ”the OMB said in its backgrounder, describing the announcement.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is canceling 20 contracts for the construction of the southern border wall, its commanding general told Congress this week.

“We have 20 contracts that we have terminated for the convenience of the government. And we are currently in negotiations with each of those 20 suppliers to determine what those final invoices will be,” Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon said at a budget hearing. . with the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, is using the allocated funds to address environmental issues arising from the construction of the wall by the Trump administration, as well as for cleaning up buildings. The department is also examining the status of cases of seizure of land for the construction of walls, as well as land acquired in previous years, to assess whether these properties are still needed. “If DHS determines that it no longer needs to use such land, it will endeavor to return the land to its former owners,” according to OMB.

Biden’s FY2022 budget included more than $ 1 billion for border infrastructure, like technology, but no additional funding for the construction of the border wall.

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