They’ll Have To Amend The Trump Budget Before Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation Can Support It

Most of the document the White House delivered to Congress looks like a decent fiscal blueprint for the country going forward, but the reneging of the deal the feds cut with Louisiana as regards offshore oil revenue sharing won’t work – and if the Trump budget isn’t amended in the House you can bet it won’t survive in the Senate without the votes of John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy.

This is going to have to get amended, because it’s not going to be acceptable.

President Donald Trump‘s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget calls for repealing the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which Louisiana officials have counted on to provide up to $140 million a year for coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects included in the coastal master plan.

According to summary tables provided to reporters by the White House Office of Management and Budget during an embargoed news conference on Monday, the Trump administration expects the repeal to save $272 million in 2018 by rescinding the sharing of about 35 percent of Gulf offshore revenue with Louisiana and other Gulf states. The money lost to Gulf states would total $3.56 billion through fiscal year 2027, according to the summary tables.

The repeal of GOMESA was not mentioned in a six-page executive summary released at the same time as the summary tables, and was not mentioned by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in the news conference, according to a transcript of the news conference.

Two years ago Barack Obama made a run at scrubbing GOMESA, and we went ballistic about it here at The Hayride – and so did pretty much every one of the state’s heavy political hitters. There isn’t much of an excuse for giving Trump a pass on this.

Rep. Steve Scalise was far too polite about the attempt to repeal GOMESA in his statement, which didn’t even address the issue…

“I’m looking forward to reviewing the details of the President’s budget. As with any budget proposal, there are things to like as well as things I’d do differently. I appreciate the fact that President Trump has presented a budget that actually gets to a balance, and also focuses on growing our economy to put more money into the pockets of hardworking families. That’s a drastic change from the last eight years of President Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility with budgets that never balanced, and it demonstrates yet again that President Trump is putting the interests of American taxpayers first.

“I will also be working to ensure that any budget we pass in the House addresses the priorities important to Louisiana, including fiscal responsibility, increased energy production and the revenue sharing that goes along with it, so we can strengthen our energy security while also restoring our eroding coast.

“This is the starting point of an important conversation between Congress and the White House, and I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump to force Washington to live within its means in order to create more jobs and grow our economy.”

Cassidy was a lot stronger about tossing GOMESA from the Trump budget…

“Taking funding away from Louisiana’s coastline is a nonstarter. Our state’s future depends on this funding to rebuild our coastline. However, this budget is a guideline; Congress must now hold hearings and do the necessary work to ensure the bill protects American taxpayers and families. There are deal breakers for me in the current budget. For one, this budget fails to prioritize restoring Louisiana’s eroding coasts. This is a national issue – restoring Louisiana’s coasts ensures our state can continue to produce energy needed by our entire nation. Any cuts to coastal restoration efforts or GOMESA are short-sighted. As the committee process moves forward, I will not only oppose cuts to the revenue sharing program but continue to work to expand it for the gulf coast.”

Rep. Garret Graves, who would seem to be the most likely member of the delegation to raise hell about dumping GOMESA, didn’t mention it in a Facebook post about the Trump budget. But he did give a pretty interesting statement to the New Orleans Times-Picayune about his objection to GOMESA’s proposed demise and where he thinks it may have come from…

Graves, who headed the state’s coastal restoration program under Edwards’ predecessor, Bobby Jindal, said cutting Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act money would be “an awful policy,” and would likely be difficult to sustain in Congress. He also suggested that the pertinent language in Trump’s budget proposal might have been written by an Office of Management and Budget holdover from the Barack Obama administration. “Keep in mind that the Obama administration tried to cut GOMESA in multiple budget years, and we were able to fight that back each time,” Graves said.

And he questioned why Trump would now be endorsing a similar proposal, considering that Graves has repeatedly discussed the importance of the act’s funding to the state’s restoration program with Ryan Zinke when Zinke was a member of Congress. Zinke is Trump’s secretary of the Department of Interior, which oversees offshore drilling in the gulf.

So far, we haven’t seen any statements from Reps. Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham or Clay Higgins, or Sen. John Kennedy on the Trump budget. If we find those we’ll update with their reactions.

UPDATE: Here was Higgins’ statement…

“I’m well on record as a loud and vocal supporter of President Trump. I think he’s doing a great job. He has presented a well-crafted budget that restores Constitutional principles and sets the nation on a path toward fiscal responsibility. While there is still work to be done, this is a great start. My major concern is the proposed repeal of GOMESA funding, which is crucial to coastal restoration efforts in Louisiana. I’ll work with my colleagues to dig through the details and ensure that Louisiana priorities are reflected in any budget that Congress passes. I look forward to working with President Trump as Congress puts together a budget that protects the People’s treasure and puts working Americans first.”

UPDATE #2: And now Kennedy’s…

“It’s vital for Louisiana and other states along the Gulf of Mexico to continue to get a share of the federal revenue from offshore drilling.  That’s why GOMESA exists; this money is used for critical coastal and wetlands restoration and preservation.  I fully support GOMESA and, after talking to many of my Senate colleagues, I’m confident that GOMESA will be preserved and will not be repealed.

“However, I want to be clear: I support Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s goals of spending less, eliminating waste, reducing the deficit and paying off the national debt.  This proposed budget is the first step in crafting a final spending plan, and undoubtedly there will be changes to it.  Reasonable people can disagree, and obviously we disagree about the essentialness of GOMESA to Gulf states.  However, we agree that the federal government needs to curtail its spending.

“The truth is that the federal government wastes an enormous amount of taxpayer money and it needs to stop now.  The federal government is borrowing $4 billion a day to maintain its current spending levels.  My family would not survive if we just charged more and more each month to our credit card with no end in sight, and neither will this great country.”

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