The Pentagon said Wednesday that it has enough funding to build 256 more miles of border wall in the near future, and will start construction at a rate of about a half mile a day over the next six months.
“We now have on contract sufficient funds to build about 256 miles of barrier,” Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan said in testimony to the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee. “How you will see this materialize in the next six months is that about 63 additional new miles of wall will come online, so about a half a mile a day will be produced.”
Shanahan also told the subcommittee there are currently 4,364 National Guard and active-duty troops on the border, another source of conflict between Trump and his political opponents, who see the military presence as unnecessary and threatening toward asylum seekers.
The Pentagon contracted close to $1 billion in border-barrier construction last month. Last week, the White House irritated Democrats with a request for $4.5 billion in emergency funds from Congress to deal with the crisis at the southern border after the White House Budget Office warned that the Office of Refugee Resettlement and other programs are at risk of running out of funding by the beginning of the summer.
Overall, the Defense Department has requested $7.2 billion for border operations in its fiscal-year 2020 budget, half of which would be dedicated to building border barriers.