The Trump administration announced on Tuesday it will waive certain federal contracting laws in an effort to speed up construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The administration will waive ten laws that require open competition in bidding on projects and for the government to justify its selection of contractors, as well as a requirement that all bonding must be received by the government before contracting work can begin. The waiver will apply toward the construction of 177 miles of border wall in sections near San Diego and El Centro, California; Yuma and Tucson, Arizona; Del Rio, Texas; and a section spanning Texas and New Mexico near the city of El Paso, Texas.
“We hope that will accelerate some of the construction that’s going along the Southwest border,” acting secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said on Fox and Friends on Tuesday.
“Under the president’s leadership, we are building more wall, faster than ever before,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
To implement its decision, the administration is using a 2005 law passed as an emergency spending bill for the Iraq and Afghan wars that allows the DHS secretary to waive certain regulations in border areas with high instances of illegal crossings.
President Trump has repeatedly promised to complete a long stretch of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of his immigration policy. Trump has resorted to diverting funds from the Pentagon to fund construction, after the Democrat-led House refused to include funds in the federal budget.
On Friday, Representative Marc Thornberry (R., Texas), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, took the unusual step of criticizing the Trump administration’s diversion of funds from within the Republican Party.
“The wall should be funded, but the funding must come through the Department of Homeland Security rather than diverting critical military resources that are needed and in law,” Thornberry said in a statement.