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Report: U.S. Agency investigating Biden over halting border wall construction



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President Joe Biden is being investigated by a government agency over whether he broke the law by stopping construction of former President Donald Trump‘s signature border wall, Politico reported Tuesday.

This comes amid the deteriorating situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has seen a surge in migrant crossings.

MORE ON THE BORDER: Republican lawmakers invite Committee Democrats to join border trip

The day he was sworn in, Biden halted construction of the wall, despite Congress having approved $1.4 billion for the project as part of a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package passed in December.

The Government Accountability Office (GOA), according to Politico, confirmed this week that it is launching a review into whether the president broke any laws by freezing the funds, a breach of budget rules regulating Congress’ “power of the purse.”

Biden, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) said, should have been aware of the rule, with the president having previously served as a Delaware senator for over three decades.

“He was in the Congress a long time,” Blunt told Politico. “He knows it’s the Congress’ job to authorize how the money is spent and the president’s job to spend it efficiently.”

MORE ON THE BORDER: ‘Not today’: Kamala Harris laughs when asked if she plans to visit the border

Even if the GAO rules that Biden has illegally frozen border wall funding, Politico noted, he is unlikely to face any formal punishment.

The president’s pause on funding—which his administration described as a “programmatic delay” like Trump’s did—was announced publicly via presidential proclamation. The Biden administration has also pledged to release the money if the pause violated congressional intent, per the news outlet.

The Biden administration said the halt will give them time to figure out where the cash should be spent, with a spokesperson for the the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) claiming it is “a necessary and responsible step for prudent management of federal funds.”

MORE ON THE BORDER: Sara Carter obtains whistleblower email describing ‘extremely unsafe and unhealthy’ conditions at migrant facility

Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), asked the GAO to look at whether the commander-in-chief exceeded his authority and violated a 1974 law that bars a president from altering funding approved by Congress.

The pause on funding “directly contributed” to that wave of border-crossers, Senate Republicans said in their request last week for the GAO to comment on the matter, per Politico. Over 70 House GOP members followed Tuesday in requesting a GAO opinion, which the agency typically provides whenever a member of Congress asks for one.

Biden is also coming under scrutiny for halting the funding just as Trump faced lawsuits after he redirected $2.5 billion in military construction funds to the building of the border wall amid a fight with Democrats over funding levels.

“The Biden administration has to be really careful about doing stuff like this, because otherwise they’re just going to be doing the exact thing the Trump administration did — just at the other end of the policy spectrum,” Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a manager at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, told Politico.

The obstruction of congressionally approved funds by both White Houses has prompted Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.), the chair of the House Budget Committee, to review the GAO’s response and to “reassert and strengthen” Congress’ spending powers, a committee spokesperson told Politico.

The congressman will also reintroduce legislation to “increase transparency around executive spending,” the spokesperson stated—with Politico noting that it is unclear if the Biden administration will back the bill, which would require the OMB to make public its instructions for spending money.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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IG Audit shows nonprofit wasted $17 million taxpayer dollars on hotels to not house illegal foreign nationals



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An audit report by the Inspector General shows enraging information as to exactly how millions of dollars from the American people were completely wasted.

One doesn’t need to read past the IG report’s headline to become furious: “ICE Spent Funds on Unused Beds, Missed COVID-19 Protocols and Detention Standards while Housing Migrant Families in Hotels.”

In summary, an unbelievable $17 million was wasted on not housing illegal foreign nationals. At the heart of the story is Endeavors, a nonprofit which has received half a billion dollars in taxpayer money “through no-bid government contracts to house foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. and were released by the Biden administration instead of being deported” reports The Center Square.

The audit evaluated the process used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant no bid contracts to Endeavors and their compliance with federal law, the article explains.

The report evaluated an $86.9 million sole source contract first awarded to Endeavors earlier this year. The contract was awarded for six months to provide “temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled and are therefore placed in immigration proceedings for their removal from the United States,” The Center Square previously reported.

Months after it received its first no bid contract, Endeavors received a second $530 million contract and hired former Biden administration official Andrew Lorenzen-Straight as its senior director for migrant services and federal affairs, Axios reported.

The Center Square explains:

Sole source contracts are used when an agency can demonstrate the contract meets specific and justified criteria. If contracts don’t meet one of the criteria, they must be awarded through an open competitive process.

Endeavors has no professional history of providing housing services and has never provided beds or all-inclusive emergency family residential services, OIG auditors found. Those critical of DHS’ contract process argue the agency should be awarding contracts through an open competitive process to ensure that those bidding for funds can offer the services they claim they can provide.

Under the contract in question, for six months between March and September 2021, Endeavors was responsible for providing 1,239 beds and other necessary services in hotels. It used six hotels and repurposed them as Emergency Family Reception Sites to accommodate families staying less than three days while ICE considered conditions of release, including alternatives to detention.

The IOG made four recommendations for ICE to improve its contracting and oversight of hotel facility management and operations. “ICE concurred with one recommendation and didn’t concur with three. Based on information ICE provided in its response, the IOG said it considered one recommendation resolved and closed, and three recommendations administratively closed.”

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