A new report by Republicans on a Senate subcommittee has concluded that the Biden administration is spending a minimum of approximately $2 billion to suspend construction of the wall at the southern border, even amid a continuing migrant crisis.
The report by the minority staff of the Government Operations and Border Management Subcommittee of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee found that efforts to suspend or terminate wall construction projects at the Defense Department have cost between $1.8 billion to $2 billion and the administration is spending $3 million every day.
"These interim findings show that the Biden administration’s efforts to stop border wall construction constitute significant waste of taxpayer resources," the report says. "As of the drafting of this report the Biden administration has paid border wall contractors at least $2 billion and counting to not build the border wall."
"This $2 billion comes directly from DOD’s budget, and the Biden administration’s continued waste of these funds poses risks to national security and border security," it says.
Biden ended the Trump-era wall project, which saw 450 miles built during the Trump administration, on his first day in office with hundreds of miles still funded and contracts already underway. Biden ordered a review of the federal government’s obligations.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has since announced a plan on what to do with money assigned to the wall, while the administration redirected transferred funds from Pentagon accounts to the original projects for which they had been appropriated. The Defense Department (DOD) had $10 billion transferred from border wall construction and related projects.
After the order to suspend construction, the committee found that the Defense Department was initially occurring $6 million a day in "suspension costs," but that was reduced to $3 million after layoffs. The money is being spent on "make safe and site security" projects.
"This means that the federal government is paying contractors on these seven projects $3 million per day to drive out to project sites and guard the unused pallets of steel and other construction materials," the report said.
To get to the $2 billion figure, the report uses DOD’s estimates laid out in court documents. Those estimates include "suspension costs" for the project, which the subcommittee staff says either "significantly undercounted" the daily accrual of $3 million a day or was not fully included.
"If the daily accrual of $3 million represents a separate cost not accounted in the broader DOD estimate of termination costs, then the total suspension costs will still be significantly higher than the estimate DOD provided to the Biden administration and to the courts," it says.
According to the report, the total amount spent could be higher than $2 billion due to uncertainties about plans for contracts acquired by DHS, questions about the Pentagon’s estimation of suspension costs, and the 12- to 18-month timeline it will take to exit the contracts.
Pentagon spokesman Chris Mitchell told Fox News that the Defense Department "will not comment publicly on matters that are in active litigation or settlement discussions."
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the lead Republican on the subcommittee, slammed the Biden administration over the findings.
"It is absolutely absurd that Americans are paying contractors to guard metal gates that President Biden refuses to install because he wants to ‘study’ the wall," he said in a statement. "Stubbornly refusing to spend money approved for the wall is not ‘executing’ the law. It’s ignoring the law and ignoring the very real national security concerns posed by illegal entry across our very open southern border. For years I have called out federal waste, but the Biden Administration is literally ‘going for broke’ with this nonsense."
The report says that the estimation on exactly how much is being wasted could be higher, as it does not factor in Department of Homeland Security accounts, as well as other costs related to some of the DOD projects.
"These estimates do not include an analysis of DHS accounts and therefore do not represent the full extent of waste by the Biden administration, nor do they include the ongoing daily costs related to DOD’s suspension of projects funded by its 284 accounts," the report says. "Given these caveats, President Biden is likely wasting significantly more taxpayer resources than estimated in this report on his efforts to stop building the border wall."
The Republican report also cast its findings in light of the ongoing crisis at the southern border, which has seen more than a million migrant encounters in Fiscal Year 2021 and more than 188,000 in June alone.
"Our border patrol agents are doing their best to secure our border, but they need additional barriers, roads, and technology to help keep us safe," Lankford said. "Instead, President Biden is paying professional construction contractors to babysit metal to the tune of $2 billion and counting, while at the same time we’ve seen a 20-year high number of migrants crossing our open border."
The report comes just as the Department of Homeland Security announced that it has canceled contracts for more than 30 miles of border wall construction in the Laredo Sector in Texas.