UNITED STATES NEWS

Biden to return diverted border wall money, spend down rest

Jun 12, 2021, 8:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s signature border wall project would lose much of its funding as well as the fast-track status that enabled it to bypass environmental regulations under a Biden administration plan announced Friday.

President Joe Biden suspended construction of the wall upon taking office while his administration reviewed the project. That angered Republicans in Congress eager to see it go forward amid an increase in apprehensions of migrants along the southwest border.

The new plan does not cancel the wall project outright, but it’s still likely to face opposition in Congress, where many Republicans are eager to promote a project closely associated with 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 use other money appropriated by Congress to address “urgent life, safety, and environmental issues” created by the construction. It also asks lawmakers not to provide any additional funding for what the Biden team believes is an unnecessary effort.

“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 Office of Management and Budget said in a statement outlining the plan.

The government has built walls and other barriers along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border for decades to eliminate some of the easier routes of avoiding checkpoints. Trump turned the issue into a centerpiece of his political identity.

Trump vowed to build a “virtually impenetrable” wall, insisting it would be paid for by Mexico, which never happened. Instead, his administration set aside about $15 billion through a combination of congressional appropriations and taking the money from the Pentagon and other parts of the government.

The Trump administration built about 450 miles (725 kilometers) of wall, moving quickly and waiving requirements for environmental reviews and mediation, though only about 52 miles (84 kilometers) were in areas where no barrier previously existed.

Biden’s decision to suspend construction prompted Republican senators to ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate whether the administration was violating federal law in not using appropriated money for its intended purpose.

The administration said Friday that it will use funds already set aside by Congress for “their appropriated purpose, as required by law” but is requesting no new money for wall construction in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2022 budget.

Biden is instead seeking money for increased technology at the ports of entry and elsewhere, saying there are more efficient ways to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling at the border.

The administration said it would return $2 billion taken from the Pentagon and use it for the construction projects for which the money was originally intended. That includes $79 million for an elementary school for the children of American service members in Germany; $25 million for a fire and rescue station at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida; and $10 million to expand defenses against North Korean ballistic missiles at Fort Greely in Alaska.

It plans to use the approximately $1.9 million remaining appropriated by Congress for the wall for drainage and erosion control or other environmental problems caused by wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and elsewhere.

Dozens of advocacy organizations have called on the Biden administration to pay for the restoration of sensitive wildlife habitat and land considered sacred to Native Americans that was damaged by wall construction. “This is a welcome, sensible next step to begin healing the devastation that Trump inflicted on the borderlands,” said Paulo Lopes, a senior policy land specialist for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The administration doesn’t explicitly say it won’t build any new wall. But it says that any new construction will be subjected to environmental review and that it will review ongoing efforts to seize land from property owners by eminent domain and will return parcels to the owners if the Department of Homeland Security determines it’s not needed.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said Thursday that the state would build its own new barriers along the border with Mexico but offered no details, including precisely where or what they would look like. He has promised more details next week.

“We need to recognize that the numbers of people coming across the border are just going to 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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

United States News

Associated Press

US revises up last quarter’s economic growth to 2.9% rate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite high interest rates and chronic inflation, the U.S. economy grew at a 2.9% annual rate from July through September, the government said Wednesday in an upgrade from its initial estimate. Last quarter’s rise in the U.S. gross domestic product — the economy’s total output of goods and services — followed two […]
7 hours ago
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition...
Associated Press

Hogan to gather with supporters amid White House speculation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Term-limited Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was holding fundraisers for future political activity Wednesday at events where the Republican is expected to talk about his eight years as governor, as well as plans for the future. Hogan, who leaves office in January, has positioned himself to run as a legitimate alternative to […]
7 hours ago
Lightning brightens the evening sky in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. Area residents were ...
Associated Press

Tornado threat continues as southern towns assess damage

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Tornadoes damaged numerous homes, destroyed a fire station, briefly trapped people in a grocery store and ripped the roof off an apartment complex in Mississippi and Alabama, and meteorologists said the threat of dangerous storms remained Wednesday near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The National Weather Service […]
7 hours ago
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg talks to th...
Associated Press

Gaetz friend says lighter sentence deserved for cooperation

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal investigation of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz learns this week how much prison time he gets on charges of sex trafficking a minor and identity theft, but not before trying to persuade a judge that his cooperation in several probes should […]
7 hours ago
FILE - Four of the cooling towers of the Dukovany nuclear power plant rise high above the natural s...
Associated Press

3 energy companies vying to build new Czech nuke reactor

PRAGUE (AP) — Three energy companies including U.S. Westinghouse, France’s EdF and Korea’s KHNP will by vying to build the Czech Republic’s newest reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power station, authorities said Wednesday, as the country strives to become more energy independent and wean itself of fossil fuels. State-controlled power company CEZ says final bids […]
7 hours ago
La Jolla Country Day high school basketball player Jada Williams poses for a portrait Monday, Sept....
Associated Press

Changes let high school athletes bank big endorsement bucks

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jada Williams was a social media star and a talented point guard when she moved with her mother from a Kansas City suburb to San Diego, looking to play basketball for a high school powerhouse and parlay her online prowess into endorsement deals. She found it all in California, which has […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Biden to return diverted border wall money, spend down rest