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File photo of different generations of the U.S. border wall with Mexico are seen from the United States in Nogales, Arizon...

Homeland Security chair requests review of $400 million border wall contract

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee is asking the Office of the Inspector General to look into a $400 million contract awarded to a North Dakota company for a border wall in Arizona.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Congressman Bennie Thompson raised concern about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to award the contract for the wall to Fisher Sand and Gravel. Thompson wrote that prior to Monday, the company had not been awarded any construction projects because its proposals didn’t meet the operational requirements of Customs and Border Protection and its prototype project came in late and over budget.

But, Thompson wrote, President Donald Trump repeatedly urged the Army Corps to award contracts to Fisher Sand and Gravel, and Jared Kushner also supported the company’s selection.

“These actions raise concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence on USACE’s contracting decision,” Thompson wrote. He asked the inspector general to ensure that Fisher Sand and Gravel’s bid met standards and that the contract was awarded in accordance with federal procurement regulations.

Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, was recently appointed as the White House lead on border construction projects, according to Thompson’s letter.

The company has long claimed it can build a U.S.-Mexico border wall cheaper and faster than its competitors. Company President Tommy Fisher is a Republican supporter and has appeared on conservative media touting his company as the best pick for building the wall.

A message left Thursday with the Dickinson company was not immediately returned to The Associated Press.

The company will receive nearly $270 million of the $400 million contract to design and build physical barriers along about 31 miles (50 kilometers) of the southern border.

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