By LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Homeland Security has asked the Pentagon to pay for the construction of 270 miles of border wall this year as part of a counter-drug effort, defense officials said Thursday.
The officials said the request came in Wednesday, and the Pentagon is beginning what will be a two-week assessment to decide what will be approved. The officials, who briefed reporters on the condition that they be granted anonymity, would not provide any cost estimates.
The request comes amid sharp divisions about the border wall between President Donald Trump and members of Congress who have been opposed to proposals to use military money for the construction.
The border wall is one of Trump’s signature issues — he’s been talking since his early campaign days about his desire to see a “big beautiful wall” built between the U.S. and Mexico. He also has claimed that Mexico is paying for the wall, but that has not happened.
Instead, money has been diverted from military construction projects and drug-interdiction work, setting up a persistent source of conflict between Democratic lawmakers and Trump in the budget bills each year.
Defense officials said the request is for the construction or replacement of border barriers, lighting and roads in six places in several states. The six places, the officials said, have a lot of traffic and include some urban areas near border crossings.