U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) was able to include a provision in the military defense budget halting spending on storage for unused construction material intended for wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to Strong, since the Biden administration suspended border wall construction in March 2021, more than $25 million of the DOD's budget has been spent on storing the materials, which already cost over $300 million to procure.
In conjunction with Senate Republicans, Strong included his "Finish It Act" in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The act would eliminate the daily $130,000 price tag on storing the materials across 20 private sites in Arizona and New Mexico. It would also compel Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to formulate a plan to use the materials for border wall construction or give the materials to border states "for the express purpose of constructing a permanent physical barrier to stop illicit human and vehicle traffic along the border of the United States with Mexico."
"Every penny that goes to the Department of Defense should be used to best prepare our men and women in uniform to protect the United States," Strong said. "President Biden's use of defense funds to indefinitely store unused border materials is an irresponsible misuse of resources during the ongoing crisis at the border and a pivotal time for U.S. national security."
In addition to demanding the Biden Administration utilize the materials, the act would require the following within 90 days of the act's approval:
Any internal correspondence of the Department of Defense that informed the decision to forgo the excess property disposal process of the Department of Defense and instead pay $130,000 per day to store border wall panels.
A list of the individuals and entities the Department is paying for use of their privately owned land to store unused border wall construction materials.
An explanation of the process through which the Department contracted with private landowners to store unused border wall construction materials, including whether there was a competitive contracting process and whether the landowners have instituted an inventory review system.
A description of any investigations by the Department's Inspector General that have been opened to examine the wasteful policy of paying to store border wall construction materials rather than using those materials to continue building or fortifying the wall on the southwest border of the United States.
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