If you thought President Trump had given up on the border wall, think again.
As promised, the Administration unveiled a plan that pulls $2.5 billion from the Defense and Justice Departments and $600 million from the Treasury Department to pay for border wall construction.
“How you will see this materialize in the next 6 months is that about 63 additional new miles of wall will come online,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. “So about half a mile a day will be produced.”
The plan will be challenged in court later this week by opponents who insist Trump’s financing methods are unconstitutional and illegal.
But Trump has no other choice considering lawmakers’ ongoing refusal to provide funding for the border wall. Last year, the stalemate initiated a 35-day partial government shutdown.
The government was re-opened with a spending package that included $1.4 billion to build a mere 55 miles of barrier fence (concrete walls were not permitted). Trump had asked for $5.6 billion.
In February, Trump declared a national emergency at the border that allowed the Pentagon to move billions of dollars towards the wall. Last week, Shanahan claimed the Pentagon had collected enough money to build 256 miles of border wall.
In the meantime, little progress has been made on existing projects at the border.
A $789 million contract with SLSCO Ltd. in El Paso, Texas has been stalled by a challenge in the US Court of Federal Claims. The hearing will take place this week.
A construction project awarded to Yuma, Arizona last month was immediately challenged by the Government Accountability Office and scrapped.
As the Trump Administration continues to move money around in preparation of awarding new construction contracts, Democratic lawmakers have proposed a bill that would decrease the amount of money the military can transfer between accounts from $9.5 billion to $1.5 billion.
In a separate challenge, a federal judge in California will soon hear a request by the Sierra Club to prevent Trump from using $7 billion in taxpayer dollars for the wall.