From all the ducking going on in Washington, you might wonder who’s going to stand up for anything anymore. That’s the case for our Republican-led delegation in Congress, going along with a raid on Pentagon projects — one of them at the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse — for funding a border wall sought by President Donald Trump.
This is no way to run a government. And we think that most members of the Louisiana delegation believe that but aren’t courageous enough to say so.
Two projects at the military base in Belle Chasse totaling nearly $40 million have been delayed because of the president’s executive order — an overreach of power for which the same GOP members from Louisiana would have had fits during the previous administration. The two projects are part of $1 billion cut from domestic military spending.
In response to inquiries, most GOP members of the delegation ducked. But the state’s senior senator, Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said he had received assurances from the Pentagon on the projects. “DOD has informed us the project will take place in 2020," Cassidy spokesman Ty Bofferding said. "This will not affect military readiness, personnel, pay or base operations.”
We suspect Cassidy and the others will get it done. These are not the biggest construction projects in the world, including a new apron for parking planes at the Belle Chasse base, but we believe that the nation as well as Louisiana ought to object to this kind of process.
The president wants a border wall, a giant project that, even if justified in some areas, is more an ego trip than a real policy to deal with the Rio Grande problem. He couldn’t win a fight in Congress over the money, so he just end-ran the appropriations processes at will.
The GOP, which championed congressional prerogatives during Barack Obama’s administration, has reversed its position and supinely agreed to Trump’s maneuver.
The Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base is the only Louisiana site on the list of $1 billion in planned military construction deferrals in states across the country. Another $2.6 billion is being diverted from military projects in U.S. territories and other nations.
Maybe some of that money can be deferred without undue harm to national security. But it was appropriated legally, and the border projects are being installed without meaningful input from the people’s representatives on Capitol Hill.
The underlying problem is that both parties in Washington have failed to compromise and generate a sensible immigration bill. In the meantime, whacking this Louisiana project for a wall makes no sense — especially since candidate Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, anyway.