On President Biden’s first day in office, he issued a memorandum blocking new border wall construction, including money appropriated by Congress for that purpose as well as Department of Defense (DOD) funds the Trump administration reprogrammed (reallocated) for border wall construction. Biden’s January 20 memorandum ordered a 60-day review of the border wall construction contracts and recommendations, but over 180 days later the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has failed to satisfy that directive.
Almost immediately, the Biden administration’s inability or unwillingness to secure the border and enforce U.S immigration law led to a historic, and worsening, crisis at the southern border. But, with Democrats in charge of both chambers of Congress, there has been no oversight of the Biden administration’s mishandling of the situation. Unable to haul DHS administration officials before a hearing to hold them accountable, the Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, took it upon themselves to investigate the effect of President Biden’s policy halting border wall construction.
According to the report, titled "President Biden is Wasting Billions by Not Building the Border Wall", subcommittee Ranking Member James Lankford finds that between $1.837 billion and $2.087 billion of taxpayer dollars have been wasted since Biden’s inauguration, and that this fiscal drain increases by at least $3 million per day. Lankford notes that at the end of the Trump administration, approximately $10 billion had been transferred to two Department of Defense accounts for border wall construction and related projects, known as DOD 2802 Accounts and DOD 284 Accounts. Based on interactions with DOD employees, the GOP learned that DOD 2802 accounts fund military construction projects and that there were seven border wall-related projects suspended by President Biden. Initially, the suspension resulted in $6 million a day in taxpayer waste, but after laying off some contractors the waste is down to $3 million a day. As explained in the report, “the Federal government is paying contractors on these seven projects $3 million per day to drive out to project sites and guard the unused pallets of steel and other construction materials.” Lankford estimates that between January 20 and July 15, DOD has paid the contracts between $618 and $708 million to babysit materials, and that it will take from 12 to 18 months to terminate the contracts. Citing government statements from pending litigation, the DOD 2802 funds wasted will total between $798 million and $1.048 billion by the end of the calendar year.
The waste of taxpayer dollars is similarly astonishing for the mismanagement of the DOD 284 accounts, which fund counter-drug and counternarcotic activities. For these accounts, DOD estimates that at least $624 million will be spent in contract claims and termination costs plus an additional $415 million in suspension costs. Like the DOD 2802 accounts, it will take between 12 and 18 months to terminate the projects. From the same litigation referenced above, DOD pegs the total cost of suspension and termination costs for projects funded by DOD 284 accounts at $1.039 billion.
The money wasted on not building the border wall is just one aspect of the Biden border crisis draining taxpayer resources. Not covered in the GOP report are the costs of DHS housing and caring for illegal aliens temporarily detained after being apprehended at the southern border. Similarly uncaptured, but highly relevant to the big picture impact, are the taxpayer costs incurred by these illegal alien economic migrants accessing public services like healthcare facilities and schools, as well as those who take jobs from Americans, either by working unlawfully or with a work permit doled out under lax Biden administration policies.