On Lundi Gras, Mayor LaToya Cantrell will do as many New Orleans mayors have done before her: ceremonially turn the city over to Rex, the king of New Orleans Carnival. Rex, a benevolent ruler, will do as he’s done before: declare 24 hours of revelry, command his subjects to put aside work for a day and free children from the tyranny of school.
Of course, on Ash Wednesday, Rex’s rule and all the mischief that goes with it will end, and it’ll be back to business in New Orleans.
Would that Louisiana’s Republican U.S. senators and congressmen take a leaf from that tradition. Their obeisance to President Donald Trump — America’s self-proclaimed Rex — shows no sign of ending. The latest example is the president’s declaration of a national emergency in order to shift billions of taxpayer dollars from the Pentagon to construct his Mexican border wall.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico, not American taxpayers, would pay for the wall. That broken promise aside, he had every opportunity to fund his wall during the first two years of his presidency — when Republicans controlled both halls of Congress. Despite no wall funding, the president decreed no national emergency. Now that Democrats control the House, he declares an emergency and proposes cuts in Pentagon funding to pay for the wall — circumventing Congress and the Constitution.
Louisiana’s GOP senators and congressmen, who have consistently bowed and scraped before this president as if he were a monarch, once again appear unwilling to challenge him — even as he gelds them by diminishing their constitutional authority.
“It’s not my preferred choice, but I’m going to support the president,” U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy said. “He will be exercising powers that Congress has given him, so this business about, 'Well, it’s unprecedented, and it circumvents Congress,' Congress gave him the power.” U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy hasn’t been that specific, but he has voiced support for a border wall and introduced legislation that would pay for it through various means.
Louisiana’s delegation in Congress has worked very hard to push funding for significant new flood control projects through the legislative pro…
The wall may be politically popular in deep-red Louisiana, but national polls consistently show most Americans oppose both its construction and this fake national emergency. The real “emergency” here is Congress delegating its constitutional budget-writing authority to the executive branch and shirking its duty to be a check on presidential excesses. In one sense, though, the president is right: There is a national border emergency — at our southern border, where the Gulf of Mexico meets Louisiana’s wetlands.
Last week, Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013, wrote an editorial for Politico debunking Trump’s claim of an immigration crisis and the need for a wall, concluding, accurately, “More Americans have died or been displaced by extreme weather events related to climate change since 2001 than by terrorists, foreign or domestic. If Trump wants to build a wall to make America safe, he should start with a seawall.”
There’s no guarantee that in the future an imperious President Trump won’t try to divert federal wetlands funding to build his wall. Should that happen, would Louisiana’s GOP senators and congressmen finally object? Or would they just continue hailing their king?