President Biden is wasting at least $3 million per day of taxpayers funds in paying contractors to “guard steel, concrete, and other materials in the desert” as an effort to “not construct” former President Trump’s planned border wall along the southern US border, despite overseeing in the last six month since taking office one of the “worst border crisis in the last 20 years.”
According to the Senate blistering report by GOP members on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management (GOBM), it found since Biden on his first day in office issued a Proclamation to “pause all construction of and obligation of funds toward construction projects for the Southern border wall,” that the Biden administration has “wasted roughly” 20 percent or $2 billion of the $10 billion devoted for border wall construction by the end of June.
“As of the drafting of this report, the Biden administration has paid border wall contractors at least $2 billion and counting to not build the border wall. This $2 billion comes directly from the Department of Defense (DOD) budget, and the Biden administration’s continued waste of these funds poses risks to national security and border security,” the report said.
It also found that the Biden administration is spending nearly $3 million a day “on daily suspension costs” and terminating active contracts. The committee found that the Defense Department was “initially incurring $6 million a day” during the “suspension costs” but was eventually reduced to $3 million after contractors “began laying off employees.” The money, according to the DOD informing the committee, is being spent on paying contractors for “make safe and site security” projects — meaning the Biden administration is paying to “guard the unused pallets of steel and other construction materials.”
“It is absolutely absurd that Americans are paying contractors to guard metal gates that President Biden refuses to install because he wants to ‘study’ the wall,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), ranking GOP member of Senate Subcommittee on GOBM, said in a statement releasing the Senate report. “Stubbornly refusing to spend money approved for the wall is not ‘executing’ the law. It’s ignoring the law and ignoring the very real national security concerns posed by illegal entry across our very open southern border.”
“For years, I have called out federal waste, but the Biden Administration is literally ‘going for broke’ with this nonsense. Our border patrol agents are doing their best to secure our border, but they need additional barriers, roads, and technology to help keep us safe. Instead, President Biden is paying professional construction contractors to babysit metal to the tune of $2 billion and counting, while at the same time we’ve seen a 20-year high number of migrants crossing our open border,” Lankford added.
To get to the $2 billion figure, the committee revealed that DOD declined to share “suspension costs” and used for their report DOD’s estimates laid out in court documents filed in Biden v. Sierra Club, a Supreme Court case involving the appropriation of funds used for the border wall along the southern border. The case became moot following Biden’s order in unraveling many of Trump-era border policies with the Supreme Court vacating the ruling and remanded the case to the lower court for any potentially necessary further proceedings. According to the DOD documents, it included the “suspension costs,” which the subcommittee stated was either “significantly undercounted” the daily accrual of $3 million a day or was not fully included in any of the provided to the Biden administration or court documents.
“Based on information provided by DOD officials and court filings in Biden v. Sierra Club, the Federal government is on track to spend at least $798 million and $1.048 billion by the end of CY 2022,” the report says, concluding “these costs will continue to accrue until the contracts are terminated. DOD estimates that termination of contracts will take roughly 12 to 18 months.”
According to Presidential Proclamation 10142, Biden directed the Secretaries of the DOD and Department of Homeland Security to pause border barrier construction and the obligation of funds related to the effort, regardless of whether such funds came from DHS or DOD accounts. The proclamation also ordered the Biden Administration to “study the border wall construction for 60 days and report back” with recommendations.
Biden slammed Trump’s border wall construction in the proclamation, declaring that “building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution. It is a waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security… It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall. I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”
However, according to the Senate report, it has been 180 days since the “60-day study commenced,” and “no study findings have been released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Biden Administration.”
“These estimates do not include an analysis of DHS accounts and therefore do not represent the full extent of waste by the Biden administration, nor do they include the ongoing daily costs related to DOD’s suspension of projects funded by its 284 accounts,” the report says. “Given these caveats, President Biden is likely wasting significantly more taxpayer resources than estimated in this report on his efforts to stop building the border wall.”
Approximately 450 miles of new primary and secondary border wall were constructed during Trump’s tenure in office since signing an Executive Order in Jan 2017. Before Biden was sworn in, 211 of the 350 miles were under construction, while 74 miles were in the pre-construction phase that was allocated in the 2021 funding. The new wall, according to Custom and Border Patrol officials, is more than just the steel slats, as systems were also planned to be installed to allow agents to detect incursions and high-speed roads to allow them to reach trouble spots faster so that agents can interdict anyone who does make it over.
The Trump Administration allocated roughly $16.4 billion in funding towards border wall construction and maintenance along the southern border. Approximately $10 billion of the total funds allocated came from DOD accounts, with $4.75 billion remained available “for obligation and disbursement” by the time Biden took office on Jan. 20.
In April, the DHS announced that the border wall projects remain paused with the exception of certain projects in Texas and California. The Biden Administration requested in late May that Congress cancel all prior-year funding for the border wall. Last Friday, the DHS announced that it is terminating two border wall contracts in the Laredo Sector of Texas — nearly 31 miles of new border wall construction as part of Biden’s broader plan to end the Trump-era construction project.
“DHS continues to review all other paused border barrier projects and is in the process of determining which projects may be necessary to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements and where to conduct environmental planning,” DHS said in a statement.
Following signing the proclamation, the Biden administration never submitted a revocation request to rescind the $1.4 billion allocated funds Congress had allocated last December for the border wall. The proclamation from Biden instead had ordered assessments of the legality of funding, contracting methods, and consequences of stopping the project. This prompted Senate Republicans requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan federal government watchdog, to investigate whether Biden violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA), a 1974 act, arguing the freeze on construction of the border wall was a “blatant violation of federal law and infringe(s) on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.”
However, the GAO in June found no wrongdoing in Biden’s decision to pause spending on the border wall with funds that Congress allocated during the Trump administration. The review found that the Biden administration had “shown that the use of funds is delayed in order to perform environmental reviews and consult with various stakeholders, as required by law, and determine project funding needs in light of changes that warrant using funds differently than initially planned.”
Delaying the wall funding was permissible, the GAO said in its decision that was due to “the time required to meet applicable statutory requirements and develop plans for the use of the funds that consider current circumstances.” Just a week prior to the GAO report being released, the DOD would finally “develop a plan” to redirect the remaining funds, with $2.2 billion to “restore funding in FY 2021 for 66 projects in 11 states, 3 territories, and 16 countries.”
Republicans also pointed since stopping the construction of the border wall, Biden has “overseen the worst border crisis” in the six months since becoming President caused by his own making. CBP reported a week ago that it had apprehended more than 188,000 migrants in the month of June, the fourth straight month reported it reached another new highest one-month record and bringing the total number of encounters for this fiscal year (FY) 2021 to over 1 million encountered.