The Pentagon notified the US Congress on Monday that it has authorised $1 billion for new border wall construction at the US-Mexico border. File photo/ AFP
WASHINGTON: Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had authorized $1 billion to build part of the wall sought by President Donald Trump along the US-Mexico border.
The Department of Homeland Security asked the Pentagon to build 57 miles (92 kilometers) of 18-foot (5.5-meter) fencing, build and improve roads, and install lighting to support Trump’s emergency declaration as concerns the border.
Shanahan “authorized the commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to $1 billion in support to the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol,” a Pentagon statement read.
The acting defense secretary defended the move by citing a federal law that he said “gives the Department of Defense the authority to construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of federal law enforcement agencies.”
The statement was released just hours before Shanahan was due to testify in Congress to present and defend the Pentagon’s draft budget.
Frustrated by Congress’s refusal to provide the budget he sought to build a border wall, Trump declared a national emergency last month in order to bypass lawmakers to unlock $8 billion in funding.
The move drew condemnation from both the president’s rival Democrats and fellow Republicans, who warned it was an abuse of presidential powers and created a dangerous precedent.
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Even though Mueller’s findings on obstruction of justice were inconclusive, US Attorney General William Barr said in a summary released on Sunday that Mueller’s team had not found enough proof to warrant bringing charges against Trump.
Moscow would be happy to mend ties with Washington after a report by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Monday.
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More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offences as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by the media.
The Southeast Asian country has seen just over 3,000 COVID-19 infections and 58 deaths but has reported no local transmission in the past week, helping accelerate moves to ease restrictions.
The country has officially logged 1,809,109 cases of COVID-19, the tracker set up by the Baltimore-based university showed at 8:30pm (0030 GMT Tuesday). The death toll and number of cases in the United States are by far the worst in the world.