The Defense Department will pause the construction of the US-Mexico border wall as it reviews President Joe Biden’s executive order.
The Army Corps of Engineers provides direction and oversight of border projects, and Raini Brunson, a spokesperson for the agency, said that “will take the appropriate actions in accordance with the (executive order).”
Brunson added that contractors involved in construction have been told not to install any additional physical barriers.
“Only construction activity that is necessary to safely prepare each site for a suspension of work will occur over the next few days,” he said.
President Biden took an immediate shot at one of his predecessor’s key legacies on Wednesday evening when he signed a proclamation calling for border wall construction to come to an end.
“It shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall,” Biden’s proclamation reads.
Over the last four years, billions of dollars had been put aside for additional barriers on the US-Mexico border, resulting in a slew of lawsuits and pushback from environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers.
Former President Donald Trump paid the wall visited days from the end of his term, saying it is an accomplishment of his administration.
“(Wednesday’s) proclamation will likely result in what’s called a suspension of work on the border wall,” said Travis Sharp, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“During the suspension of work, the contractor must keep track of any additional expenses caused by the delay, so that the government can potentially reimburse those expenses later.”
A federal judge in California has already directed the administration to provide an update on how the new executive order affects an ongoing border wall case.
According to contracting experts, the government has a long-standing authority to terminate contracts, though such actions can come with their own challenges and at a cost.
There are costs incurred before construction starts, such as planning costs, land acquisitions, and manufacturing expenses, and pre-positioning equipment.
If contracts are terminated, there may also be the need to pay costs associated with cleanup, demobilization, and potentially restoration of land for safety and environmental reasons.
The costs will ultimately depend on o the contract and how much of the project has been completed so far.