WASHINGTON — Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said more money transfers from the Pentagon coffers to fund border-wall construction are coming soon.
Shanahan told Pentagon reporters Wednesday that those funds transfers are being studied by Pentagon leadership and “that (analysis) will initiate the next step in the review process.
“I would say here in the near term. I can’t give you an exact date,” Shanahan told reporters. “We are reviewing. So, I’d love to give you a date. It remains a high priority and focus of the department.”
Shanahan is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss plans for a Space Force/Corps. It is likely he will be asked about funds for the border and so-called “reprogramming” of money from other accounts to pay for wall work.
Many members of Congress oppose such fund shifting.
Independent estimates have placed the cost of building a wall on the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexico border of at least $15 billion.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon moved forward two contracts using reprogrammed funds for the border wall, totaling $976 million. One contract is for “border replacement wall construction” in Santa Teresa, N.M., the second for “primary pedestrian wall replacement” in Yuma, Ariz.
Pentagon officials have said that roughly $8 billion in Pentagon money could be shuffled to pay for wall projects during the fiscal 2019 and 2020 years.
Shanahan spoke briefly to reporters while waiting to greet Austrian Defense Minister Mario Kunasek for a Pentagon visit.
On Tuesday, Shanahan told Fox News there was no confrontation between President Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned from her position as Homeland Security secretary on Sunday.
In the interview he called the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border an emergency that demands clear targeted conversation.
He also called circumstances at the border — the scene of surging numbers of asylum seekers and migrants — as an “emergency” that calls for some focused conversation.
“I saw a lot of intensity to solve a problem, that’s not tension,” he told Fox. “This is a very focused effort. The border is a serious situation.”