Wendy and I want to wish you and your family a happy 4th of July. Our country is the land of the free thanks to the many men and women who have answered the call to serve our country. I send my gratitude to them and their families, and all those who make America the greatest country on Earth.
It’s an honor to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate, where I’m constantly reminded of the rights our country has always stood for and those we still work to protect. Please continue reading below to learn more about some of the ways I’m working to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate.
United States Senator
Highlights from June (click the hyperlinks for more information):
Passing a Highway Bill to Reduce Traffic, Improve Our Roads
Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. But unfortunately, Louisiana faces major infrastructure problems. We need to build and improve more roads, bridges, lanes, and mass-transit systems. That’s why I passed legislation out of the Senate transportation committee that will improve our roads, highways, and transportation infrastructure. The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (or DRIVE Act) will make the updates we need – including investments to reduce traffic congestion. This bill will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families – it’s a win-win for everyday Americans and our economy. Click here to read more.
Continuing the Fight for the Steve Gleason Act
Since last year, I’ve been working with Steve Gleason and his foundation, Team Gleason, on legislation to make speech generating devices (SGDs) more accessible and affordable for patients across the country. Our fight took a big step forward this month, when the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee passed our legislation. Now we just need a vote before the full House of Representatives. Click here to read more.
Protecting Jobs for Blind Louisianians
My amendment to protect jobs for the blind and disabled was passed as part of the Defense Department funding bill. The amendment specifically protects programs like the New Orleans Lighthouse for the Blind, which employs over 180 Louisianans. Last year, the program lost 40 jobs as a result of the Obama Administration’s initiative to shift jobs to foreign employers. There should be no question that these jobs – which directly support our national defense – should go to American citizens instead of foreign employers. Click here to read more.
Making Sure the Chemicals We Use Are Safe
You probably use chemicals every day, but are you sure they're safe? Senator Tom Udall and I are fighting to pass our legislation that will update our country’s chemical safety laws. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reform these outdates laws, and now I’m fighting for a vote in the Senate. Click here to read an op-ed I co-wrote with the March of Dimes and Sen. Udall for CNN.com.
Working to End Abortions After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy
We can make great strides toward protecting and dignifying innocent human life by putting an end to late-term abortions – when an unborn child can feel physical pain. That’s why I’ve co-sponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Every step toward ending abortions once and for all is an important step in the right direction. Click here to read more.
Pushing for Long-Overdue VA Clinic in Lafayette
The Department of Veterans Affairs has again delayed critical services for our veterans – this time over religious freedom. The VA has withdrawn from a contract to provide a desperately-needed and long-promised temporary clinic in Lafayette. The VA’s reason for withdrawal was common contractual language intended to protect freedom of religion. I have asked the VA why this withdrawal occurred. Our veterans deserve a completed facility, where they can get appropriate treatment. Click here to read more.
Do you feel like you spend too much time in traffic? From going to and from work to picking up the kids from school, we rely on our roads to get us there – and traffic can make it a real challenge to get everything done.
Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. But unfortunately, Louisiana faces major infrastructure problems. Our highway system is 40th in the nation, and our interstates come in at 48th. Our Louisiana bridges currently rank 10th in the nation as the most deficient. And on top of that, New Orleans and Baton Rouge both rank in the top 25 in the nation for traffic congestion.
We need to build and improve more roads, bridges, lanes, and mass-transit systems. Investing in these infrastructure updates can spur new jobs, shorten commutes, and encourage greater economic opportunities for businesses.
That’s why I passed legislation out of the Senate transportation committee this week that will improve our roads, highways, and transportation infrastructure. The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (or DRIVE Act) will make the updates we need – including investments to reduce traffic congestion. This bill will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families – it’s a win-win for everyday Americans and our economy.
Like you, I’m a consistent advocate for the sanctity of human life. Just this year, I earned a 100% pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee. Recently, my focus has been stopping abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy, the point at which an unborn child can feel pain. I cosponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to end this barbaric practice.
Many countries around the world have already ended late-term abortion. The United States needs to join these countries and pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which will save approximately 13,000 unborn babies from feeling the excruciating pain when they are killed while in the womb. This legislation is simply common-sense—it’s unbelievable that there are groups working to fight an initiative that would protect unborn children from feeling the pain of an abortion procedure.
Putting an end to late-term abortions is an important component in our ultimate goal to fully protect and dignify innocent human life. Our pro-life movement is growing, and it gains momentum every year. We’re changing hearts and minds around Louisiana and across the country. But we still have a long way to go. With the persistent witness of pro-life advocates like you, I’m confident that we will be successful.
Folks along the Red River are seeing higher water than we’ve seen in most of our lifetimes. The good news: the river has crested at 37 feet. The not so good news: it’s going to stay high for days or weeks.
We absolutely need to remain vigilant and, of course, prepared. That’s why I brought in a number of federal agencies today to make sure they saw first-hand the damage we’re already seeing, and what could lie ahead. I brought in the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard and the National Weather Service. They’ll all play a role in assessments, and possibly in providing any necessary assistance to you and your communities.
Click here to watch my interview with KTBS in Shreveport.
Please continue to visit my website for important information on phone numbers to call, shelter information, and some preliminary information about disaster assistance. Please note that there has not been a declaration of disaster yet. Click here for more information.
As you know, this week marks the start of hurricane season. Does your family have an emergency plan in place? It’s important to revisit your family’s disaster plan every year, even if you’ve experienced storms before.
I’m doing everything I can to take precautionary measures at the federal level. As the Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, I’m passing legislation out of the committee to help small businesses get back up and running after a major disaster. I’ve also helped secure funding for flood control measures in Louisiana, enabling local officials to make key infrastructure improvements to better protect our families.
Please continue reading below to learn more about some of the other ways I’m working to bring Louisiana common-sense to the U.S. Senate.
United States Senator
Highlights from May (click the hyperlinks for more information):
Video Spotlight: Ending Washington’s Exemption from Obamacare
Washington should have to live under Obamacare just like everybody else until we repeal it. But some Members of Congress created a loophole out of the statute in Obamacare that states that Congress and official staff must enter the Obamacare Exchange just like the rest of America. I’ll continue fighting for my legislation to end Washington’s Exemption from Obamacare.
Upcoming: Steve Gleason Act to Get House Vote
Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has told me they'll bring my Steve Gleason Act up for a vote in June. When I visit with patients living with ALS, one thing I hear frequently is their challenge to communicate with loved ones. We have a chance to help them have a voice, literally, by making certain medical devices more accessible and affordable. Cutting edge technology helps patients communicate with speech generating devices, but most can’t afford this technology on top of all other health care costs. We can fix that and make communication available to many more ALS patients.
Putting Disaster Assistance Ahead of Politics
President Obama recently announced that he’s using FEMA Disaster Assistance to promote his political agenda. The Administration’s plan stipulates that before FEMA will issue disaster mitigation grants, states are required to include climate change in their disaster planning and preparedness strategies. I wrote a letter this month to FEMA urging them to reconsider this ludicrous rule. Disaster mitigation grants are a lifeline to rebuilding for families and communities affected by disasters, and they absolutely shouldn’t be used as a political bargaining chip. Click here to read more.
Improving Services for our Veterans
We owe it to our veterans to provide them with the best, most accessible care possible. I’m part of a bipartisan VA Backlog Working Group to work toward ending the massive backlog of veterans claims and preventing the problem in the future. I’m also working to finally bring two new VA clinics to Lafayette and Lake Charles. Click here to read more.
Preventing Welfare Abuse
Welfare assistance is meant to help folks get back on their feet, and receiving this extra help from the government comes with responsibility. That’s why I introduced the Welfare Abuse Prevention Act, which would limit the amount of money that welfare recipients can withdraw from ATMs each day using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Americans across the country have struggled under a depressed economy, and we need to make sure that taxpayer dollars funding these programs are going toward real necessities. Click here to read more.
Protecting Student Data Privacy
Parents have a right to feel betrayed when schools collect and release information about their kids. Wendy and I have four kids, and their sensitive information doesn’t belong to someone in Washington D.C. As parents, we need to make sure we have complete control over our own kids’ information. That’s why I introduced the Student Privacy Protection Act, which would ensure that parents and students retain complete control of education records. Click here to read more.
Cleaning Up Explosives at Camp Minden
I’ve been working to make sure the appropriate agencies get rid of the dangerous abandoned explosive material at Camp Minden. Last week, the Department of the Army committed to immediately move forward with the final clean-up agreement to dispose of abandoned munitions at Camp Minden and will pay for 100% of costs associated with it. This will allow us to take the next step toward cleaning up Camp Minden once and for all. I’ll keep pushing until the clean-up is finally resolved. Click here to read more.