Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Between the Idea and the Reality

Falls the Shadow:

“I’m going to take a look at the case the president makes,” Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told NBC host Chuck Todd Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

The Wisconsin Republican said he was concerned about the timeline of when the administration actually intends to put the funds into use. “If he’s not going to be spending it this fiscal year or very early in the next fiscal year, I would have my doubts.” 
Ron Johnson's concerns here are irrelevant.  The problem is the way government works, and by "problem" I mean the problem for Trump.  Having announced his "national emergency" and then spent the weekend playing golf and getting up early this morning for his favorite TV shows:
(I always imagine him in pajamas on the floor, a bowl of cereal in his lap, the way I watched Saturday morning cartoons as a kid.)

It doesn't seem clear Trump is going to do any follow up (does he ever?).  Yes, the burden now shifts to people like the Acting Secretary of Defense, who actually takes this matter of governance seriously:

 ”I think I have a lot of discretion,” Shanahan told reporters while traveling abroad on Saturday. “You can trust the numbers in terms of the potential. Then you gotta marry it up with where the money would be spent.”


”But I just want to make a point of this: we are following the law, using the rules, and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.
Trump, of course, wants to run over the rules with his golf cart.  But the laws don't favor him, and one of those laws requires Shanahan to declare the wall is "a military construction project...that [is] necessary to support such use of the armed forces."  That's going to be easy for Sen. Johnson to justify; but when will the money actually get spent?  The more people jump in the pool to sue over this (and that group just increases when you consider government contractors who will lose contracts as money is moved to the wall construction), the longer it take simply to condemn private property for the wall, the less likely much of this money (which must be used for construction, not for eminent domain purchases.  Under what statute is that money allocated?  Military construction on an emergency basis must be on property already owned by the military.) will ever move from column A to column B to payments to somebody for something done.

That's really what Sen. Johnson is talking about.  As a practical matter we're no closer to the wall than we've ever been, or probably ever will be.

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