When President Donald Trump visits the Crescent City today to address a Farm Bureau convention, he’ll land at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where neither the air traffic controllers nor the staff of the Transportation Security Administration are being paid.
Those are just a couple of consequences of a partial shutdown of the federal government that’s now entering its fourth week. In the early days of the shutdown, prompted by a dispute between the president and Congress over funding for a wall along the nation’s border with Mexico, Trump opted not to leave the White House for the holidays. His decision expressed urgency about resolving a standoff with Capitol Hill, even if it meant working through Christmas.
That sense of urgency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has apparently passed, as Trump takes a break from Washington to greet farmers in New Orleans.
We welcome the president to Louisiana, where he’s sure to find many admirers. Louisiana voters overwhelmingly backed Trump in the 2016 election, and support for him remains strong here.
But we also hope, as the president visits New Orleans and other parts of the country, that he’ll see firsthand how the shutdown is touching America.
When the government of the most powerful country on earth isn’t paying its employees or keeping its doors open, we aren’t demonstrating American greatness to our people, nor to our friends and enemies across the globe. That’s the real “crisis of the heart and soul,” to borrow a phrase from the president’s recent Oval Office address, not the so-called emergency Trump is suggesting along the southern border.
Security is important, but key parts of the border already have a wall. Illegal crossings of the border have been trending downward for years. The president’s insistence on spending billions of taxpayer dollars to build a wall we don’t need – a wall that candidate Trump repeatedly insisted Mexico would pay for – has actually made us less safe.
When key federal employees like airport staffers go unpaid, we’re weaker, not stronger. When restaurants like some in New Orleans are offering furloughed federal workers free food, America looks resigned, not resilient. And when federal investigators can’t probe a crash that killed five Louisiana children because a government agency is shuttered indefinitely, the grandest republic in history isn’t answering its call to service.
We call on the president, as well as members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation, to end this stalemate. It’s not serving our state, our country, or our stature abroad.