April 10 (UPI) -- The Defense Department announced its first contracts, totaling $976 million, to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
SLSCO Ltd., headquartered in Texas, received a $789 million contract for wall construction in Santa Teresa, N.M., regarded as part of the El Paso sector of the border. Montana-based Barnard Construction Co. was also awarded a $187 million contract for primary pedestrian wall replacement at Yuma, Ariz. Both contracts were announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday.
Work on the two contracts, likely to start in the next couple of months, is expected to be completed in fall 2020, with Barnard finishing in September and SLSCO expected to be done in October.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said the contract will provide the El Paso sector with 46 miles of "30-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate." He added that 11 miles of "18-foot bollard fencing and a five-foot anti-climb plate" will be built at the Yuma sector.
Funding for each contract comes from nearly $1 billion allocated to the Army to supplement a counter-drug account authorizing military barriers. The funds were redirected from Army personnel accounts.
Funds for the two contracts are also separate from $3.6 billion in military construction funding also redirected for building the border wall.
Seeking to reassure members of Congress, Acting Defense Secretary Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 13 that "military construction on the border will not come at the expense of our people, our readiness, or our modernization."
The following day, the Senate voted by 59 to 41 to overturn President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southern border, arguing that the president had exceeded his powers in trying to build a border wall over Congress's objections. The vote, on a measure already approved by the House, prompted the first veto of Trump's presidency.
"Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., commented after the Senate vote.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Albuquerque, N.M., was the contracting agent for the SLSCO contract. The Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles was the contracting agent for the Barnard contract.