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A portion of U.S.-Mexico border wall stands unfinished on near La Joya, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration is returning more than $2 billion redirected from Department of Defense projects for Trump's border wall, and is again calling on Congress to cancel other remaining border wall funds.

Why it matters: Biden had promised not to build "another foot" of President Trump's infamous border wall if elected. One of his first executive actions paused construction of the wall, and called for a plan for the funds in 60 days — a deadline that passed in March.

  • "Building a massive wall that spans the entire southern border and costs American taxpayers billions of dollars is not a serious policy solution or responsible use of Federal funds," according to an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) release.

What's happening: DOD has already started ending border wall projects that used diverted funds, and the administration said they are ending the expansion of the wall whenever legally possible.

  • Funds will be returned to sixty-six different Defense projects, including for military housing, on-base schools and training facilities.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also reviewing land acquired in past year by eminent domain actions for the border wall. If the land is needed, it will engage with landowners and if not, the agency "will work to return the land to its prior owners."

Yes, but: The administration is legally required to use an estimated $1.9 billion in funds on border barriers, as they were specifically directed to be used by Congress.

  • It's why the administration is "reiterating its call for Congress to cancel funds it previously appropriated for border barrier projects so that these resources can instead be used for modern, effective border management measures to improve safety and security."

With those funds, DHS will prioritize "urgent life, safety, and environmental issues resulting from the previous Administration’s wall construction" as well as for clean-up of DOD-funded construction sites, according to OMB.

  • The administration announced earlier this year that they would resume construction on an important flood wall in the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas, as well as address dangerous issues with soil erosion along a 14-mile segment of border wall in San Diego, California.

By the numbers: The Trump administration built 52 miles of new slatted structures where there had been no previous barrier, in addition to hundreds of miles of replacement fencing. Some segments cost as much as $46 million per mile, according to the OMB release.

Go deeper

Biden to overturn Trump rule allowing roads in Tongass National Forest

A view of Tongass National Forest in Alaska in June 2016. Photo: Sergi Reboredo/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Biden administration said in a notice Friday that it will “repeal or replace” a rule change from former President Trump that opened up a large portion of Alaska's Tongass National Forest to road construction and other types of development.

Why it matters: The rule change was part of Republican efforts during the Trump administration to expand logging operations in the forest, which is one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests, according to the Washington Post.

Exclusive: Quartz, NYT vets launch new media company about work

Photo credit: Emma Howells for Charter

Quartz co-founders Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf, along with New York Times veteran Erin Grau, are launching a new media and services company called "Charter" that is centered around the future of work, the founders told Axios.

Why it matters: "There are other media companies that write about this topic — some occasionally and some more frequently, but it's one topic among many things that they do," Delaney said. "This is a driving focus for us."

Biden endorses bill to end sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration endorsed a bill Tuesday that would end sentencing disparities for crack versus powder cocaine offenses.

The big picture: Supporting the legislation follows through on one of Biden's campaign promises. But it's a shift from decades ago, when Biden spearheaded efforts to pass the legislation that implemented the disparities in the first place.