WASHINGTON – Uncertainty looms on whether full-funding for the Comite River Diversion Canal will remain in place if President Donald Trump issues an emergency declaration for construction of a wall at the Mexican border.
The funds under consideration for the border wall do not come from revenue set aside for Louisiana, according to U.S. Congressman Garret Graves, R-District 6, but he did not guarantee it would not happen if President Trump called for the emergency declaration.
President Trump could siphon money from a $13.9 billion disaster fund Congress put in place last year, which could include the $243 million Congress allocated the state last year to complete the long-awaited flood control project.
“We are doing everything we can to work with the White House, Corps and others to temper the impact and urging them – should they move ahead with an emergency declaration – to only utilize funds that are not otherwise going to be spent in 2019 in order to create time to come back and replenish those dollars,” Graves said. “I don’t think that an emergency declaration is an option that should be here on the table – and the precedent does concern me.”
Other projects rumored to lose funds include the West Shore Hurricane Protection in New Orleans, as well as Grand Isle and Baton Rouge Flood Area Flood Control.
The projects and their funding are protected, but Graves said in his post that he would continue to fight any effort to remove the funds.
“With all the efforts we made to secure the funds and the importance of the projects on the line, we will not stop fighting to protect these funds and get our project built,” Graves said. “There are other options to fund border security.”
Graves emphasized he remains in support of border security and that he has not changed his position. He lashed out at Democrats, whom he accused of playing politics over the issue.
“We’re in this situation right now because you have Democrat members of Congress who historically (as recently as months ago, in some cases) were supporting, proposing legislation and voting for billions of dollars for border security and border barriers,” he said. “Yet suddenly, because this president has made it a priority, it has become a political fight full of meritless debate in which many are just opposing it strictly because of politics.”
The threat comes amid the ongoing government shutdown which began Dec. 22. The shutdown stemmed from President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in federal funds for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Democrats in the House of Representatives nixed his request after they cited a promise the President made that the Mexican government would pay for the wall.
“It’s ridiculous that we’re in this predicament,” Graves said. "We shouldn’t be here, and this isn’t how this place is supposed to work.”
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