NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency will not affect the state’s flood mitigation projects.
The Trump administration is expected to dip into other pots of federal funds to make up for the money Congress did not approve for the president’s long talked about border wall.
Meanwhile, a local constitutional law professor said the president is right to anticipate legal challenges.
“We’re going to be signing today and registering a national emergency,” said Pres. Trump during a press event carried on most television news networks.
And after his Rose Garden comments, Trump signed the declaration of emergency to give him an avenue to get more money than Congress recently approved for additional border security.
GOP Sen. John Kennedy, of Louisiana, was in his home state as the president announced his decision.
"It’s not my preferred choice, but I’m going to support the president. 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. The National Emergencies Act has been used 60 times by presidents since the mid-1970s,” said Kennedy.
Trump demanded nearly $6 billion for the border wall he promised his supporters during the presidential campaign.
But following the government shutdown a bi-partisan congressional compromise provided $1.4 billion for border security, far short of what Trump wanted.
"It was clear to maintain legitimacy with his base he had to do something bold,” said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.
Trump said he anticipates a legal battle.
"We will have a national emergency and we will soon be sued,” Trump said before reporters.
Tulane constitutional law Prof. Stephen Griffin agrees.
"The president can declare anything he wants. There's no real limit on his ability to declare an emergency, but once you start talking about the details of actually reprogramming the funds or getting the land then there's no guarantee that he can actually at the end of the day build what he wants,” said Griffin.
Griffin said members of Congress will try to block the president’s actions.
"There's not much doubt that Congress is going to try to shut it down,” he said.
And protracted legal fights over land needed for the wall are also anticipated.
"Oh, there’s no question. I understand there’s litigation left over from the Bush administration as far as when they tried to acquire land in Texas,” said Griffin.
Sherman said Trump’s move concerns some Republicans in Congress because of the precedent it sets, in terms of federal funding.
"The power of the purse is Congress’ strongest power in the Constitution. This declaration of emergency takes that power away from Congress and puts it in the executive branch,” said Sherman.
Aides say President Trump plans to dip into military construction funds to help pay for the border security he wants.
Still, Cassidy said federal dollars for Louisiana flood mitigation projects will not be impacted.
With the money Congress already approved and funds related to the emergency declaration, the Trump administration is expected to have about $8 billion for border security and Cassidy said $600 million of it will come from the Treasury Department’s Forfeiture Fund, which includes money confiscated from Mexican drug cartels.
Cassidy had previously proposed using such dollars to help pay for the border wall.