The U.S. has been shelling out large sums of money to deal with unused border wall material, according to a letter to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Melissa Dalton that has been signed by more than a dozen Senate Republicans.
"Today we write because we are disturbed to learn the Department of Defense is paying private landowners to store border wall materials procured under the Trump Administration instead of fortifying the southern border with those materials," the GOP lawmakers said in the letter.
"At present, over 20,000 border wall sections, otherwise known as bollard panels, lie unused at 20 project sites across southern Arizona and New Mexico. Every day, the Department of Defense pays $130,000 to store, maintain, and secure these materials. Since you were sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs a year ago, you have allowed the Department to pay over $47 million to store these panels. The Department of Defense should not be incurring these daily charges but should be using these funds to bolster national security," the letter states.
Fox News reported that in communication with the Senate Armed Forces Committee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated that the Biden administration's move to cancel border wall contracts resulted in "a variety of excess materials" and that "total costs to store, maintain, and secure all the materials across all sites is estimated to be approximately $130,000 per day."
"Some of these materials, to include security cameras, overhead lights, and electrical and stormwater materials are being disposed of in accordance with federal excess material disposal laws and regulations," the USACE noted, according to Fox News. "Overall, 61% of non-bollard panel materials, and 4% of bollard panel materials have been transferred to other government agencies or disposed of through the DLA disposition process. The total value of these materials is estimated at approximately $300 million. However, the cost to the government cannot be finalized until audits are completed and negotiations with contractors are concluded."
The move toward nixing all of the contracts "is still on-going and is projected to continue at a minimum through 2024," the USACE informed the Senate committee, according to Fox News. The non-bollard items are "scheduled to be turned in to DLA facilities by the end of March 2023" and USACE is communicating "with DLA regarding the over 20,000 excess bollard panels," the USACE reportedly noted. "Contract terminations cannot be completed until all materials have been properly disposed," the USACE indicated, according to the outlet.
The massive amount of money being spent on the unused material comes even as the nation's southern border is inundated month after month by massive flows of migrants. There have already been more than one million southwest land border encounters during the five-month period spanning from October 2022 through February 2023, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
"It is astounding to me that the Department of Defense is paying $130,000 per day to do nothing with $300 million worth of border wall materials," Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said, according to Fox News. "This clear example of government waste is holding back our mission to protect American citizens and American security. President Biden appears to prefer spending money to avoid building the wall, rather than protect Americans from cartels."
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