Congressman Paul Gosar Wants Army to Build the Wall | Phoenix New Times

Congressman Paul Gosar: Have the Army Build the Border Wall

Congressman Paul Gosar appears to have seized on an idea that President Trump has floated in public and private.
Congressman Paul Gosar, seen here in 2015, wants the military to fulfill President Trump's border wall pledge.
Congressman Paul Gosar, seen here in 2015, wants the military to fulfill President Trump's border wall pledge. Gage Skidmore/flickr
Share this:
Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar wants a border wall, and he's ready to order the military to do the job.

In an amendment filed on Wednesday to a defense spending bill, Gosar proposed authorizing the Secretary of the Army to carry out President Trump's signature campaign promise of a security wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gosar's proposal was tucked in the slew of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, a massive annual appropriations exercise that determines military spending and policy. The Hill reported Gosar's amendment in a roundup of the most notable of the 554 amendments to the NDAA that are on the table.

Gosar appears to have seized on an idea Trump has proposed in public and private.

"Build WALL through M!" Trump wrote on Twitter in March, "M" being the military. Trump also pressed lawmakers on the idea after a disappointing round of spending negotiations this spring — the final budget to fund the government only included $1.6 billion for repairs to the existing border infrastructure.

As reported by the Washington Post, Trump proposed using the military as a workaround in order to build the wall without relying on funds in the general federal budget.

These amendments have to be approved by the House Rules Committee before making it to the floor next week, so it's possible that Gosar's amendment will never see the light of day.

The text of Gosar's amendment is vague. It grants the Secretary of the Army the ability to “carry out a military construction project to construct a wall along the international border between the United States and Mexico.”
The amendment also says that the army can use “funds available for research, development, test, and evaluation for the project.” What's unknown is how much this task would cost the army and the time frame for the military to build the wall. Presumably, the project would be subject to oversight from Trump and his administration given his role as the commander-in-chief.

Gosar also seems to give the Army precedence over the Department of the Interior when it comes to the construction project. The amendment transfers jurisdiction over land from the Interior Secretary to the Secretary of the Army as needed in order to build the wall. It could potentially allow the military to bypass Interior when it comes to environmental analyses, a move that would infuriate the environmental groups that have criticized the impact of a wall on wildlife and public lands.

In January, the Trump administration estimated that the initial phase of construction of a border wall would cost $18 billion to cover hundreds of miles of the southern border.

In a brief emailed statement to New Times, Gosar spokesperson Melissa Brown said that the amendment "gives the military training for engineering and reinforces the reality that this is a national security issue."   

The Republican congressman has represented the 4th District since 2011. His district includes Kingman, Prescott, Payson, and other outskirts of the Phoenix metro area.

An anti-DACA warrior, Gosar made headlines in January when he asked the Capitol police officers to arrest any undocumented immigrants who attended the State of the Union as guests. His various inflammatory statements have created an ugly rift with his many siblings, who publicly blasted Gosar's "lies and distortions" last fall.

This article has been updated to add a comment from Congressman Paul Gosar's office.
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Phoenix New Times has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.