July 14, 2021

Smith Demands Biden Administration Reveal Full Cost of Cancelling Border Wall

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Budget Committee Republican Leader Jason Smith (MO-08) today issued a formal request to the Biden Administration’s Undersecretary of Defense, Michael McCord, for a complete accounting of the litigation and settlement costs that have resulted, or are projected to result, from President Biden’s decision to cancel border wall construction projects funded by Congress.

Upon taking office, President Biden immediately halted construction of the border wall, and last month, the Biden Administration announced it would use funds previously appropriated for the construction of a barrier along the southern border for other purposes. As a result, all projects related to construction of the border wall have been cancelled, including at least twenty contracts. This decision by the Biden Administration comes at the same time that border crossings have surpassed a 21-year high.

When pressed by Representative Smith during a House Budget Committee hearing last month, Undersecretary McCord committed to revealing the full cost of cancelling border wall construction contracts by the Department of Defense (DoD).

“President Biden’s decision to ignore the will of Congress by halting border wall construction is part of a broader failure by his administration to respond to the devastating circumstances at our southern border that are enriching violent cartels and undermining the safety and security of the America people. Each day that passes without meaningful action to address the growing influx of illegal immigrants only serves to further fuel the humanitarian and national security crisis we are witnessing. The American people are picking up the tab for President Biden’s failed policies, and we intend to find out exactly how much this disastrous decision is costing hard working families,” said House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith.

In the letter, Ranking Member Smith requested the DoD provide a detailed explanation of the total amount of funds spent on litigation and settlement disputes related to border wall contracts, the total number of cancelled contracts, and the total amount of funds the Department intends to spend on settling cancelled contracts.

“President Biden’s immigration policies, including his decision to halt construction of a southern border barrier, have directly resulted in historic levels of illegal migration to our southern border as well as a national security, humanitarian, and public health crisis. As a result, it is important for the Administration to be transparent and accountable to Congress and the American people regarding the cost of such policies to taxpayers,” wrote Smith.

The letter is part of the House Budget Committee Republicans’ ongoing effort to exercise oversight related to the Biden Administration’s border crisis. In April, House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith and House Homeland Security Committee Republican Leader John Katko sent a letter to the Biden Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) demanding full transparency regarding the total cost to taxpayers of President Biden’s border crisis. In May, Smith and House Oversight and Reform Committee Republican Leader James Comer called on OMB to provide justification for its misguided plan to funnel billions of dollars to Northern Triangle countries in an attempt to slow illegal immigration without implementing deterrence policies that successfully discourage illegal immigrants from attempting to cross the border.

Read House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith’s letter to DoD here.