This thread is my attempt to explain, to the best of my ability, what it would really take to build “The Wall.”
This is not a political tread, but rather a technical one, that explains the mechanics of what would happen in the US Government should our nation
desire to build “The Wall.”
A few assumptions:
The total length of the continental border between the US and Mexico is 3,145 kilometers (1,954 mi). (1)
The first draft Homeland Security specifications for the wall is that it be either a solid concrete wall or a see–through structure, “physically
imposing in height,” ideally 30 feet high but no less than 18 feet, sunk at least six feet into the ground to prevent tunneling under it; that it
should not be scalable with even sophisticated climbing aids; and that it should withstand prolonged attacks with impact tools, cutting tools, and
torches. The cost of the wall is estimated at $21.6 billion.(2)
Authorization bills create, extend, or make changes to statutes and specific programs and specify the amount of money that appropriators may spend on
a specific program (some authorizations are open-ended).
Appropriations bills provide the discretionary funding available to agencies and programs that have already been authorized.
For example, an authorization measure may create a food inspection program and set a funding limit for the next five years. However, that program is
not funded by Congress until an appropriations measure is signed into law. The authorization bill designs the rules and sets out the details for the
program, while the appropriations bill provides the actual resources to execute the program. In the case of mandatory spending, an authorization bill
both authorizes and appropriates funding for a specific program without requiring a subsequent appropriations law. (3)
Under the Congressional authorization an Agency would most likely be assigned as the lead for the Wall Program, with spending authority. For the sake
of argument, I will propose that DHS gets the lead, and will be appropriated a small amount of “seed” money (say $30 million) to get the Wall
Program going. The House Ways and Means Committee will perform Program oversight, requiring the Wall Program managers to report progress quarterly.
DHS will form a program office to oversee the multi-year process. They will also reach out to many other Departments of the Government for help. GSA
is the real estate Agent for Federal projects to buy land and do construction. DOJ will be needed to help out with eminent domain to acquire the land
and to negotiate compensation and face lawsuits. EPA would be involved to perform environmental impact studies. Many other Agencies would have a role
in the Wall project. Each of these Agencies will have to negotiate and bilaterally agree with the Wall Program Lead (DHS), and sign Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) with both parties agreeing with respective roles and responsibilities.
DHS will then commission a study of feasibility of several alternative routes and methods to construct the wall, the costs and benefits of each
proposal, and possible market sources of selection for meeting their requirement. After the study is complete and approved, including acquisition lead
time, award, study, review, public comment and presentation to Congress, about 18 moths have now passed.
DHS will now begin source(s) selection for the prime contractor to build the wall. With billions at stake, this will represent a major procurement.
Source selection will take between 18-36 months. Assuming there are no protest, the Wall Program is now 54 months (4 ½ years) into the process, and
not a single shovel has hit the ground. Congress can now begin releasing (appropriating) the remainder of the originally Authorized $21.6 billion as
As a point of discussion, you could shorten my estimated times by ½, and it would still put you past the 2020 elections.
Once again, I am not trying to make this a political thread for the sake of policy disagreement. Rather I am presenting the political realities of
what it takes to perform large projects. Think about how long it takes to build any large structure, and aircraft or a ship. In private and public
sector, it takes years once approved.
edit on 3-1-2019 by FilthyUSMonkey because: (no reason given)
on 3-1-2019 by FilthyUSMonkey because: (no reason given)