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Lankford Exposes Billions in Waste in Biden Border Wall Debacle, Demands Answers from Top Officials

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management, today released a blistering report on $2 billion in wasted taxpayer dollars to pay Department of Defense (DOD) contractors not to build the border wall while more than 180,000 migrants attempted to cross our southern border in June alone. On January 20, President Biden issued Presidential Proclamation 10142, which terminated the federally declared emergency at the southern border and halted the construction of the congressionally funded border wall, citing the need to “assess” the wall’s construction, an action Lankford immediately opposed. Lankford’s report identifies the “termination and cancellation” costs still being accrued daily on the contracts to build the border wall that are ongoing but not being fulfilled.

“It is absolutely absurd that Americans are paying contractors to guard metal gates that President Biden refuses to install because he wants to ‘study’ the wall,” said Lankford. “Stubbornly refusing to spend money approved for the wall is not ‘executing’ the law. It’s ignoring the law and ignoring the very real national security concerns posed by illegal entry across our very open southern border. For years I have called out federal waste, but the Biden Administration is literally ‘going for broke’ with this nonsense. Our border patrol agents are doing their best to secure our border, but they need additional barriers, roads, and technology to help keep us safe. Instead, President Biden is paying professional construction contractors to babysit metal to the tune of $2 billion and counting, while at the same time we’ve seen a 20-year high number of migrants crossing our open border.” 

In January 2021, DOD contractors in charge of overseeing wall construction along the southern border received $10 billion in taxpayer money, which had been obligated toward wall-related projects. By the end of June, the Biden Administration has wasted roughly 20 percent ($2 billion) of the $10 billion meant to build the wall to pay contractors to watch steel rust in the desert.

For the time period immediately following Presidential Proclamation 10142, in which President Biden halted construction of the border wall to “study” it, Lankford’s office found that DOD contractors were reportedly being paid $6 million per day—to not construct the wall they were hired to build. Now taxpayers are paying contractors on just seven project sites $3 million per day, after numerous layoffs, to sit and watch the steel bake in the sun. To make matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not provided information to Congress about the status of border wall projects funded by congressional appropriations.

On July 16, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released the latest staggering border crossing numbers for June, which included an astounding 20-year high 188,829 total encounters. CBP seized 508 pounds of fentanyl, which was up 12 percent from May. Additionally, the June update revealed that 95,079 unaccompanied children were found at the border since September 2020.

After visiting the southern border as part of his oversight responsibilities, Lankford called out the Biden Administration’s open border policies on the Senate floor and penned an op-ed in the Daily Caller about our now open borders. In May, Lankford condemned the Biden Administration’s efforts to secretly respond to the obvious ongoing emergency at the southern by recruiting a “volunteer force” of federal employees from NASA, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Agriculture to work at the border transferring migrants with very few training requirements. In June, Lankford shared his frustration after the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) review of the executive action to withhold funding for the completion of the wall system at the US southern border.

Lankford has stated he plans to hold every nominee for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until the crisis at the southern border is handled and until the southern border wall is complete.