The Biden administration returned $2 billion to the Defense Department that had been redirected by former President Donald Trump to fund border wall construction in the Southwest.
The money is the unspent balance of the $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds Trump shifted to barrier construction after declaring a national emergency on the border with Mexico.
The $2 billion will be used as Congress originally intended, to fund more than 60 construction projects at military installations in the U.S. and overseas. The projects include an elementary school in Germany for the children of U.S. military personnel, a fire and rescue station in Florida, and a missile interceptor site in Alaska, all of which had been put on hold after Trump redirected the funding.
In announcing the move, the White House denounced Trump’s handling of the border situation and accused the former president of wasting public funds.
“Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of federal funds,” the administration said in a statement. “In total, the previous administration built 52 miles of wall where no barrier previously existed, with some wall segments costing American taxpayers up to $46 million per mile. The effort diverted critical resources away from military training facilities and schools, and caused serious risks to life, safety, and the environment. It also took attention away from genuine security challenges, like drug smuggling and human trafficking.”
According to CBS News, Trump’s effort to build the border wall with Mexico ranks as one of the most expensive federal construction projects in American history. The Trump administration dedicated $15 billion to the project, including roughly $10 billion taken from defense and narcotics interdiction programs.