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As Congress moves to have stored border...

As Congress moves to have stored border wall panels installed, Biden Administration seeks to auction off millions in materials

By: Frank Corder - August 29, 2023

A small gap appears in the unfinished border wall Wednesday, May 19, 2021, near Sasabe, Ariz. U.S. Customs and Border Prevention has been authorized to start cleaning up construction sites and close small gaps in the southern border wall nearly a year after President Joe Biden took office and ordered building to stop. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement this week that wall building projects begun by the Defense Department within the Border Patrol's sectors in California, Arizona and parts of Texas will be turned over to his agency so any safety and environmental concerns can be addressed. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Biden Administration wants to auction off millions of dollars in completed panels instead of using them to construct the border wall. Senator Wicker works legislatively to stop the move and secure the southwest border.

Even as efforts are underway in Congress to force the Biden Administration to allow already built panels and related materials to be used to complete sections of the southwest U.S. border wall, the Department of Defense has begun auctioning off approximately $260 million worth of border wall construction materials for other purposes.

“These auctions represent a brazen attempt to circumvent the FINISH IT Act, which was included in both the House and Senate FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act,” Mississippi U.S. Senator Roger Wicker told Magnolia Tribune.

Wicker, the ranking Republican member on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the FINISH IT Act in mid-March along with Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)

The legislation came after Wicker again visited border operations earlier that month where he learned of over 20,000 border wall sections, otherwise known as bollard panels, and other materials ready for use being stored. That led to an investigation by Armed Service Committee Republicans which revealed that the Department of Defense is spending $47 million per year, or $130,000 per day, to store the panels at various locations across the southwest.

The FINISH IT Act would require the federal government to deploy the materials – which were found to be at 20 project sites across southern Arizona and New Mexico – or transfer them to state governments who can use them for wall construction.

“Several governors have indicated an intention and a desire to complete the border wall at their own expense,” said Senator Wicker. “This assisted that and allowed governors, like the governor of Texas who’s been very proactive on this, to direct already completed panels for the wall.”

Wicker’s legislation – the FINISH IT Act – was included in the Democratic controlled Senate passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and a similar set of provisions were also included in the Republican controlled House version of the NDAA.

When Congress returns from their August work period, it is expected that both chambers will move quickly to formally appoint conferees ahead of the final version of the NDAA being presented for passage.

As noted in Wicker’s measure, constructing physical barriers along the southwest border of the U.S. has been one element of broader efforts to secure that border during the Administrations of at least three former Presidents – George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

“It does appear that President Biden is so opposed to any addition to the border wall that he is willing to give away these panels at military surplus prices,” Senator Wicker said, adding that the Administration’s auction of the materials is essentially for “pennies on the dollar.”

“It really is outrageous,” Wicker said Monday.

In the meantime, Wicker and 11 of his Republican Senate colleagues recently sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding that he suspend all auctions of border wall construction materials. The Senators also want Secretary Austin to direct the Department of Defense Inspector General to investigate Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs Melissa Dalton’s failure to provide Congress accurate and timely information about the Department’s plans regarding the use of these border wall construction materials, despite multiple inquiries about the border wall construction materials from both Senate Armed Services Committee members and staff.

By September 5th, Wicker and his colleagues are seeking a full accounting of both the Department’s disposal of border wall construction materials and payments to store the border wall materials thus far.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: