NATIONAL NEWS

Homeland Security Waives Contracting Laws For Border Wall

Feb 18, 2020, 8:59 AM | Updated: 9:00 am
FILE: A construction crew works on a section of privately built border wall on December 11, 2019 ne...
FILE: A construction crew works on a section of privately built border wall on December 11, 2019 near Mission, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration said Tuesday that it will waive federal contracting laws to speed construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security said waiving procurement regulations will allow 177 miles (283 kilometers) of wall to be built more quickly in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The 10 waived laws include requirements for having open competition, justifying selections and receiving all bonding from a contractor before any work can begin.

The acting Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, is exercising authority under a 2005 law that gives him sweeping powers to waive laws for building border barriers.

“We hope that will accelerate some of the construction that’s going along the Southwest border,” Wolf told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday.

Secretaries under President Donald Trump have issued 16 waivers, and President George W. Bush issued five, but Tuesday’s announcement marks the first time that waivers have applied to federal procurement rules. Previously they were used to waive environmental impact reviews.

The Trump administration said it expects the waivers will allow 94 miles (150 kilometers) of wall to be built this year, bringing the Republican president closer to his pledge of about 450 miles (720 kilometers) since taking office and making it one of his top domestic priorities. It said the other 83 miles (133 kilometers) covered by the waivers may get built this year.

“Under the president’s leadership, we are building more wall, faster than ever before,” the department said in a statement.

The move is expected to spark criticism that the Trump administration is overstepping its authority, but legal challenges have failed. In 2018, a federal judge in San Diego rejected arguments by California and environmental advocacy groups that the secretary’s broad powers should have an expiration date. An appeals court upheld the ruling last year.

Congress gave the secretary power to waive laws in areas of high illegal crossings in 2005 in a package of emergency spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and minimum standards for state-issued identification cards. The Senate approved it unanimously, with support from Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The House passed it with strong bipartisan support; then-Rep. Bernie Sanders voted against it.

The waivers, to be published in the Federal Register, apply to projects that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will award in six of nine Border Patrol sectors on the Mexican border: San Diego and El Centro in California; Yuma and Tucson in Arizona; El Paso, which spans New Mexico and west Texas, and Del Rio, Texas.

The administration said the waivers will apply to contractors that have already been vetted. In May, the Army Corps named 12 companies to compete for Pentagon-funded contracts.

The Army Corps is tasked with awarding $6.1 billion that the Department of Defense transferred for wall construction last year after Congress gave Trump only a fraction of the money. The administration has been able to spend that money during legal challenges.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Italy. Lazio. Rome. Via della Conciliazione. St. Peter Basilica. (Photo by: Fotia Francesco/AGF/Uni...
Julia Buckley, CNN

Tourist smashes two statues in the Vatican

A tourist smashed two ancient Roman sculptures into pieces at the Vatican on Wednesday.
20 hours ago
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 03:  Actors Brad Pitt (L) and Angelina Jolie arrive at the premiere of...
ANDREW DALTON AP Entertainment Writer

Angelina Jolie details Brad Pitt abuse allegations in court filing

A court filing Tuesday from Angelina Jolie alleges that on a 2016 flight, Brad Pitt grabbed her by the head and shook her then choked one of their children and struck another when they tried to defend her.
20 hours ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Police say California serial killer ‘on a mission’ in slayings

A California serial killer seems to be "on a mission" throughout the fatal shooting of six men and the wounding of one woman dating back to last year.
20 hours ago
...
Andrew Adams

Relatives scramble to relocate Florida woman to Utah after she lost everything to Ian

Family members were scrambling Tuesday to get a relative in Florida safely to Utah after she lost everything to Hurricane Ian.
20 hours ago
FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...
David McHugh, AP Business Writer

OPEC+ makes big oil cut to boost prices; pump costs may rise

OPEC+ alliance makes big cut to world oil production to boost sagging prices, which could mean rising costs at the pump
20 hours ago
FILE: Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her at A...
Chloe Melas, CNN

Alec Baldwin reaches settlement with Halyna Hutchins’ family

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer killed on the "Rust" movie set in 2021, and Alec Baldwin have reached a settlement.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Homeland Security Waives Contracting Laws For Border Wall