Former President Donald Trump’s signature border wall project will lose most of its funding as well as the fast-track status that enabled it to circumvent environmental regulations under a new Biden administration plan.
The new plan does not outright cancel the wall project, but it is still likely to face opposition in Congress, where many Republicans are eager to promote a project closely linked to the former president.
Biden plans to return more than $2 billion that the Trump administration diverted from the Pentagon to help pay for the wall and Congress to address “urgent life, safety and environmental issues” created by the construction. Other funds appropriated by It also tells lawmakers that it should not provide any additional funding for what the Biden team believes is an unnecessary effort.
The Office of Management and Budget said in a statement outlining the plan, “Building a giant wall that spans the entire southern border and costing US taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or a responsible use of federal funds.”
The government has for decades built walls and other barriers along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometre) US-Mexico border to eliminate some of the easier routes to avoid checkpoints. Trump made the issue the focus of his political identity.
The Trump administration built a nearly 450-mile (725-kilometre) wall, rapidly moving and waiving requirements for environmental review and arbitration, although only 52 miles (84 kilometers) were in areas where Earlier there was no obstacle.
Biden’s decision to suspend construction prompted Republican senators to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether the administration was violating federal law by not using the appropriated money for its intended purpose.
The administration said Friday it would use funds already earmarked by Congress for “their proper purpose required by law,” but is requesting no new funding for wall construction in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 budget .
The administration said it would return the $2 billion it took from the Pentagon and use it for construction projects for which the money was originally intended. This includes $79 million for elementary school in Germany for the children of US service members; $25 million for the Fire and Rescue Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida; and $10 million to expand defenses against North Korean ballistic missiles at Fort Greeley in Alaska.
It plans to use the approximately $1.9 million appropriated by Congress for the wall for drainage and erosion control or other environmental problems caused by wall construction in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere.
Dozens of advocacy organizations have called on the Biden administration to pay for the restoration of vulnerable wildlife habitats and lands considered sacred to Native Americans that were damaged by wall construction. “It’s a welcome, sensible next step given the devastation Trump has taken in the border areas,” said Paulo Lopes, a senior policy land expert at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The administration does not explicitly say that it will not build any new walls. But it said any new construction will be subject to an environmental review and that it will review ongoing efforts by Eminent Domain to seize land from property owners and, if the Department of Homeland Security determines it is not needed, So will return the parcel to the owners.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said Thursday that the state would build its new barriers along the border with Mexico, but gave no details, including where or what they would look like. He has promised more details next week.
“We need to recognize that the number of people crossing the border will continue to increase unless we change the game plan,” Abbott said.
Associated Press writers Anita Snow in Phoenix and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.