Pentagon spending $130K a day to block border states from accessing unused border wall panels
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville joined U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and 12 other U.S. Senate colleagues demanding answers from a top Pentagon official regarding the Department of Defense’s (DoD) expenditure of $47 million to house unused border wall panels since President Biden ordered a halt to construction in 2021. American taxpayers have already spent $300 million to acquire the materials that have been wasted by the Biden administration. The senators also requested a full accounting of the DoD’s internal correspondence on this issue, a list of entities the department is paying to store the panels, and an explanation of the contract process with these respective entities.
“It is a betrayal of millions of hardworking Americans in this country to deliberately use their taxpayer dollars to undermine their safety,” said Senator Tuberville. “Since taking over, this administration has made securing our southern border its last priority, despite record numbers of deadly drugs pouring across—killing nearly 150 Americans every day. The DoD owes the American people an explanation for this outrageous waste of taxpayer funds and breach of national security. I will continue pushing for answers on their behalf.”
“The Department of Defense should not be incurring these daily charges but should be using these funds to bolster national security,” the senators wrote in the letter. “In a highly dangerous security environment for the United States, every dollar Congress authorizes for the Department of Defense should be used effectively. This failing program clearly misses that standard.”
Joining Senator Tuberville and Senator Wicker in the letter were U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rick Scott (R-FL), Ted Budd (R-NC), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Complete text of the letter can be found here and below.
The Honorable Melissa G. Dalton
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs
1300 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Assistant Secretary Dalton,
Many of us have toured the southern border, and we have seen firsthand how vulnerable this Administration’s border policies have made our nation. Today we write because we are disturbed to learn the Department of Defense is paying private landowners to store border wall materials procured under the Trump Administration instead of fortifying the southern border with those materials.
At present, over 20,000 border wall sections, otherwise known as bollard panels, lie unused at 20 project sites across southern Arizona and New Mexico. Every day, the Department of Defense pays $130,000 to store, maintain, and secure these materials. Since you were sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs a year ago, you have allowed the Department to pay over $47 million to store these panels. The Department of Defense should not be incurring these daily charges but should be using these funds to bolster national security. In a highly dangerous security environment for the United States, every dollar Congress authorizes for the Department of Defense should be used effectively. This failing program clearly misses that standard.
With the support of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Department of Defense disposes of excess military property through reutilization, resale, and demilitarization programs. We assume you are well aware of this capability since the Department used the program to transfer 1,700 border wall panels to the state of Texas early in your tenure. It has come to our attention that only 4% of the excess bollard panel materials have been transferred. We urge you to pursue all possible avenues to sponsor or endorse the reuse of excess Department of Defense property, including further transfer to states.
As you continue to review your handling of the southern border, please provide:
- The Department of Defense’s internal correspondence that informed the decision to forgo the Department of Defense Excess Property Disposal process and instead pay $130,000 per day to store border wall panels.
- The list of the individuals and/or entities the Department of Defense is paying for use of their privately-owned land to store the unused border materials.
- An explanation of the process through which the Department of Defense contracted with private landowners to store the unused border materials, including whether there was a competitive contracting process and whether the landowners have instituted an inventory review system.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.