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Unspent border wall funds will be rerouted back to military construction projects

The Pentagon announced Friday that it would cancel all of the border construction projects funded by the siphoning of money destined to to build military schools, training facilities and more.

More than 100 projects were put on hold in late 2019 after then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed off on rerouting $3.6 billion from the Defense Department’s military construction account. What’s left will go back into those deferred projects, according to a Pentagon release.

“DoD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners,” spokesman Jamal Brown said in a statement.

In total, the Pentagon put $11 billion of its budget into border barrier construction at the behest of then-President Donald Trump, whose declaration of emergency at the border allowed the re-allocation of counter-drug, military construction and acquisition dollars for building contracts through the Army Corps of Engineers.

The decision to tap military construction funds prompted multiple lawsuits, one of which the Supreme Court agreed to hear last fall, though it has not ruled.

Upon his inauguration in January, President Joe Biden ended Trump’s state of emergency, ordering DoD to review the projects it had funded and figure out how to cancel them and/or reroute the money back into military spending.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and USACE did not immediately respond to a request for more information, including how much money was yet to be awarded, and whether funds could be recouped for awarded contracts that haven’t been completely fulfilled.

As of October, according to USACE data, about $1.2 billion had been awarded to build 97 miles of wall. The most recent contract had been signed in January 2020.

Though border wall construction has come to a halt, roughly 3,500 National Guardsmen from 22 states are still deploying to the area in support of Customs and Border Protection.

They are slated to continue rotations until at least the end of September.

“Homeland Security, CBP, would like to continue DoD support,” Air Force Gen. Glenn VanHerck, head of Northern Command, told Military Times in March.

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