Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana
congressional delegation's list of priorities for the new White
House administration and new Congress centers on hurricane
recovery, health care and energy issues.
They include aid for farmers whose crops were devastated by
hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the removal of red tape for local
governments negotiating with the Federal Emergency Management
Agency about aid from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and changes to
the Medicaid financing formula for states affected by disasters.
Jindal outlined the priorities Saturday at the Governor's
Mansion after a meeting with several members of the congressional
delegation, one of a regular series of quarterly meetings between
the governor and Louisiana's members of Congress.
The Republican governor talked of coastal restoration and flood
protection needs and opportunities for Louisiana to play a role in
developing nuclear power and alternative energy projects. Also on
the list is a request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use
dredging material to help Louisiana rebuild its wetlands, rather
than dumping it into the Gulf of Mexico.
He said the state also hopes President-elect Barack Obama's
administration and the 111th Congress would be more sympathetic on
federal rebuilding dollars for the New Orleans charity hospital
that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. FEMA has offered $150
million for the damage, but Jindal said the state is owed more than
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, called the list "a
thoughtful and strategic game plan for this team. It is certainly
doable with hard work."
The issues aren't new. Many remain unresolved after continuing
negotiations with the Bush administration and the last Congress.
What is new is a plan by the Obama administration to craft a
sweeping economic stimulus package for states, that the White House
hopes could gain congressional approval in February.
Jindal said the Obama administration asked states to provide
lists of transportation and infrastructure projects that were
"shovel ready" and could begin within 90 to 180 days, projects
that could create jobs and stimulate state economies.
Among the projects Jindal said Louisiana could begin quickly if
provided federal aid were continued expansions of Interstates 10
and 12 in the Baton Rouge area, I-49 north from Shreveport to
Arkansas and road paving projects around the state.
The governor and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, said they
have asked the Obama administration to include dollars for coastal
restoration and flood protection projects in the stimulus proposal.
Jindal said the stimulus bill likely won't include money tied to
specific projects, but rather distributed through a funding formula
that would allocate dollar amounts to states.
Though Vitter said he would work to get Louisiana priorities
included in the stimulus plans, he added, "I don't know how I'll
vote on that final bill."
In attendance besides Landrieu and Vitter were Republican U.S.
Reps. Rodney Alexander, Charles Boustany and Steve Scalise.
Representatives for Democratic U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon and
Republican U.S. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao also participated in the
The group pledged to work in a bipartisan effort with Democratic
leaders in Washington on their priorities.
Jindal, a former member of Congress, and the state's Republican
congressmen said they didn't believe having a majority Republican
delegation would harm the state's efforts to work with the
Democratic White House and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
"The new administration in D.C. has indicated they want to work
in a bipartisan way ... We're going to take them at their word.
We're going to work with them," Jindal said.
Newly elected Congressmen Bill Cassidy and John Fleming didn't
attend Saturday's meeting.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times