It’s National School Choice Week

This week is National School Choice Week. In Louisiana, we’ve seen the real, positive change that can happen when parents are given the power to make education choices for their families. Parents, along with local teachers, principals, and education leaders in our communities, know best where to send their kids to school and how to spend our education tax dollars.

When it comes down to it, I trust folks in Louisiana to make decisions regarding their children's education far more than I trust bureaucrats in Washington.

That’s why I've fought tooth and nail for local control of education and against the enormous growth of federal power under President Obama. That includes introducing legislation that would get rid of the federal government’s ability to force or bribe states into adopting Common Core or other federal standards, curriculum, or assessments. Click here to read more about this legislation, and other bills I’ve introduced to reform education.

We need to reduce the size and scope of the federal government in our classrooms and return curriculum decision-making and use of taxpayer dollars to those closest to the students.

Keeping Louisiana a World Energy Leader

I grew up seeing the energy business up close through the eyes of my dad, who headed production in the Gulf for Chevron. I’ve always made it one of my top priorities to ensure that Louisiana remains a world leader in the industry by streamlining the regulatory process and promoting responsible operations and clean-up over litigation.

As the first Senator to introduce legislation to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, I’ve made it clear that I’m committed to creating jobs and fostering America’s energy renaissance. I’ll keep fighting to get this across the finish line.

Another crucial part of pursuing our goal for energy independence involves expanding access to the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). That’s why I’ll continue pushing my legislation that would open more areas off the East and West Coasts for exploration in the next OCS 5-year lease plan, which would begin in 2018. This same legislative effort would increase federal offshore revenue sharing for energy producing states, significantly increasing much deserved money to Louisiana that we’ll dedicate to restoring and protecting our coasts. It’s obviously a win-win. Click here to read about all my bills to boost our energy economy.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s administration has done nothing but try to stop efforts to increase domestic energy production. In the last seven days they’ve again announced new restrictions to our abundant energy resources. They said they’ll prohibit the use of lands in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and today announced they’re keeping most of the OCS off limits. The current price of oil doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for a sound national energy policy for our future.

For example, increasing natural gas production on federal lands would be huge for our economy. The administration has desperately tried to put federal land off limits. The natural gas and unconventional resource boom kept our economy afloat during the recession – and that was almost exclusively because of development on private lands, not federal.

Make no mistake, the President’s far-left environmentalist agenda is intended to suffocate our domestic energy producers, plain and simple. It not only includes regulations, but also absurd taxes—for example, the carbon tax. You know I’ll continue to fight against the Administration’s policies in the interests of the economic advancement of our state. First and foremost is passing Keystone XL this week.

Continuing Our March in Defense of Life

We have a lot of reasons to be proud of Louisiana. But among the top, we were recently ranked the most pro-life state in the nation by Americans United for Life. I know that Lousianians like you and me are renewing our commitment to building a culture where all people, born and unborn, are guaranteed the right to life.

The March for Life in Washington D.C., which took place yesterday, serves as important reminder of the movement to protect innocent human lives that continues to gain momentum across the country. My wife Wendy, three of our children and I participated in the March this week. Last week, two of my children and I were in Shreveport for the March for Life there.

One of the most inspiring parts of the March for Life is the number of young people who are involved. Our next generation is really the key to changing hearts and minds and protecting the sanctity of life.

In remembrance of the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the annual March for Life, I introduced a series of pro-life bills in the U.S. Senate. Click here to read more. An important step I took included reintroducing my bill to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being awarded to entities that perform abortions.

I’ll continue to be a consistent advocate for the sanctity of human life, earning a 100% pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee, and I will continue to lead the fight for pro-life legislation in the 114th Congress.

Steve Gleason joins me as State of the Union guest

It’s truly an honor to have Steve Gleason join me as my guest at the President’s State of the Union address to Congress tonight.

Most of you remember Steve Gleason, a former player with the New Orleans Saints, for his famous blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 that led to a touchdown and a great win. That was the Saints’ first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. Click here to watch the blocked punt video. I still get goose bumps watching it.

A few years later, Steve was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and currently works with his organization, Team Gleason, to empower others living with ALS. I started working with Team Gleason a few years ago on legislation to help folks with disabilities to live fuller, more independent lives. Steve and the rest of Team Gleason have been super advocates for the legislation.

I teamed up with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to introduce the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act, which would create a separate benefit category for medical equipment such as a power chair or speech devices like Steve uses, within the Medicare program.

I’ve also worked with Team Gleason to pressure the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to rescind a designation that limited access for certain medical equipment, including the speech generating device Steve uses.

I’m excited that he’ll be here in Washington to bring some more attention to ALS and our legislation. We also have a meeting in my office today with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to discuss all of this with her.

No White Flags!

Balance the Budget

Even though we have a fresh start to a new Congress, our nation’s fiscal problems are no better than they were last year. It’s only a few weeks into the 114th Congress, but my Senate colleagues and I are already working to reform the government’s inefficient budgeting process.

First, I’m working to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that requires Washington to live within it means and puts strict limits on the ability of Congress to run deficits and add to the national debt. It requires Congress to spend no more than it takes in during any fiscal year and limits spending. I know this should be the law of the land already – but it’s not, and we’ve seen how out of control Washington spending has been under the Obama administration.

Second, to cut down government spending and increase oversight, I’m working to change the fiscal budget year from one year to two years. Doing this will allow more time to review how the budget is working and conduct any necessary oversight. I know that the President and Congress must be held accountable for decisions regarding government spending that affect Louisianians and taxpayers across the country. I believe it will force the federal government to be more efficient and resourceful with its appropriations.

Third, I’ve introduced a federal debt management bill. My bill would eliminate the Treasury Department’s ability to use what they call “extraordinary measures” to extend U.S. borrowing authority. I also want to require the Treasury Department to provide Congress with its daily balance sheet information, so they can’t try to plan any number games.