1st US-Mexico border wall contracts expected soon

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Washington, April 9 (IANS) The first contracts to support the construction of US President Donald Trump’s border wall on the Mexico border are expected to be awarded as soon as this week using Pentagon funds, defence officials told CNN.

The officials said on Monday that the first US Army Corps of Engineers contracts to support the wall’s construction should be signed this week.

The contracts are to support work at the two sections of the proposed wall that Defence Department officials surveyed late last month, in Yuma, Arizona, and the New Mexico part of the El Paso sector, which also includes Texas.

A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers told CNN last month that the plan was to install 11 miles of fencing at Yuma and 46 miles at El Paso.

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The funds for the contracts will come from the $1 billion that was recently reprogrammed from Army personnel accounts into the 284 counter-drug account that authorises border barrier construction.

That reprogramming has been opposed by some lawmakers in Congress, but the Pentagon has said it does not need congressional approval to shift the funds.

As a consequence of the move, Congress has threatened to strip the Pentagon of its ability to transfer funds in the future.

The development comes after Trump travelled to the border on April 5 accompanied by Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The administration has previously said it plans to shift an additional $1.5 billion in Pentagon funds toward wall construction at some point.

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That money is separate from the $3.6 billion in military construction funds that the Trump administration has sought to tap into to fund the wall via a national emergency declaration.

–IANS

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