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Pentagon shifting $1.5 billion for border wall construction

The Pentagon announced Friday that it would spend another $1.5 billion on border fence replacement on four additional projects in Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, Texas. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters there would not be any further spending on border barriers this fiscal year.

"I won't be reprogramming anymore money for the border wall," Shanahan said, explaining that some of the funding had come from savings in Afghanistan. He went on to say, "We have very smart people here in the department and we found ways to do this without having any impact on readiness."

The Pentagon said the fencing announced Friday totals about 78 miles.

In April, the Pentagon awarded nearly $1 billion for wall construction and replacement contracts, the first to be awarded since President Trump declared a national emergency at the border, citing what he called the "long-standing" problem of "large-scale unlawful migration" through the border. The emergency declaration enabled him to divert funding approved by Congress toward the construction of the border wall he has sought since he was a presidential candidate. 

Along with the spending announced Friday, the total Defense Department spending on the fencing is projected to be about $2.5 billion. The April funding went to projects in Galveston, Texas and Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Both of these projects are expected to be completed by fall of 2020. The Pentagon reprogrammed funds from counter-narcotics programs for this earlier tranche of funding.

David Martin contributed reporting.

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