Pentagon chief OKs $1 billion for 57 miles of border wall – USA TODAY

Pentagon chief OKs $1 billion for 57 miles of border wall – USA TODAY

The Pentagon will spend up to $1 billion to build 57 miles of fencing along the Mexican border, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced.

Shanahan authorized the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers to plan and build the 18-foot-high fencing, construct and upgrade roads and install lighting in the Yuma, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas.

Shanahan said the efforts was in support of the national emergency declaration President Donald Trump issued last month for the southern border. Trump issued the declaration after Congress refused to appropriate the $5.7 billion he wanted for construction of the wall. 

Shanahan cited the need to “block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of federal law enforcement agencies.”

Shanahan announced the plan late Monday, hours before the U.S. House was schedule to vote on Trump’s veto of a congressional resolution that would have voided the emergency declaration. Foes of Trump’s plan, however, did not appear to have the two-thirds majority required to override.

“The President’s veto will be upheld,” Tweeted Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California. “We will #SecureTheBorder.”

Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build the wall allows him to tap billions targeted for military construction projects ranging from garages and air traffic control towers. The projects have been approved by Congress but contracts have not yet been signed for them.

Last week, Shanahan forwarded to Congress the list of construction projects the Pentagon could delay but not cancel to redirect funds to the wall. An air traffic control tower in Alabama was among those projects.

Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook

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