2005 was a year that no Louisianian will forget. Thinking back on Hurricane Rita now, I know it is Louisiana’s resilience and strength that got us through one of the most intense hurricanes on record – hitting us just weeks after Hurricane Katrina had impacted southeast Louisiana.
Hurricane Rita was utterly devastating and highly destructive. In its wake, Rita caused billions of dollars in damage to businesses and properties and upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of Louisianians.
While we cannot fully predict or control natural disasters and the consequential impacts, Louisianians are survivors. We are strong and resilient, and we do not back down in the face of a challenge. Ten years after that terrible hurricane season, we are more prepared than ever if and when the next natural disaster strikes. But of course, there is still so much more we can do – especially for coastal restoration and storm protection.
As part of Louisiana’s positive recovery and progress, I have fought to secure more than $1 billion in federal assistance. I’m also glad to say that I was able to pass the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) last year. As the top Senate Republican negotiator, I was able to make critical reforms to the Army Corps of Engineers, create a national levee safety program, and provide greater opportunities for locals – not federal bureaucrats – to manage the critical projects that keep us in Louisiana safe.
It takes commitment to rebuild our lives, and I am committed to making sure Louisiana’s future is brighter and clearer.
WRRDA is just one of the few successes I’ve fought for that protects life, property, and Louisiana’s economic prosperity. We also need to lead the fight on continuing to bring in new business to the state, building a skilled workforce, and providing our children with access to the best education available. I’m doing everything I can to fight for Louisianians, from our best and brightest to our most vulnerable.
As we take a moment this week to remember our lives ten years ago, I urge you to also recognize and congratulate yourself on the immense progress we have made – together. Our positive, can-do attitude is responsible for our recovery, and in the coming years, we will continue to focus on the hope, the improvements, and the good in those changes.
Unfortunately, our beautiful state has and will continue to encounter natural disasters, and we always need to be prepared. It is our shared struggles, heartache, and history that have brought Louisianians together, and as we continue to work together and face the many challenges threatening our state, I know that Louisiana’s future is certainly brighter than ever.
It was 10 years ago when we lost so much because of Hurricane Katrina. The horrific scenes of families on rooftops, homes completely under water, businesses abandoned – these memories will stay with us forever.
And in the 10 years since, Louisianians have fought hard to rebuild, recover, and have a rebirth. It’s our innate strength, determination, and resilience that have been the driving forces behind our recovery and is a good indicator that our future is brighter than ever.
Even now, while much progress has been made, there is much more work to do. We are certainly better off in Southeast Louisiana than the day before Katrina, but the job isn’t done yet. That’s why I pledge my ongoing commitment to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, state agencies, and local communities to make sure storm protection and levees and coastal restoration remain a priority.
Just last year, I was able to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) into law, which made critical reforms to the Corps that reduce red tape, expedite construction, and hold them accountable to a higher standard. My legislation also instituted a national levee safety program that provides local leadership with the necessary tools to ensure that their communities have the ability to repair and rehabilitate levees that were built to protect them.
These are just a few of the positive changes I’ve been working on to make sure that Louisiana is protected in the future. But the flood protection system is just one part of ensuring a brighter future. Citizens and elected officials need to commit to making our communities safer, and that absolutely includes fighting the crime epidemic currently rearing its ugly head. Natural disasters and violent criminals aren’t going to wait for us to tell them when we’re ready – we need strong leadership and focus to protect our people now. 10 years of positive recovery is far too important to let thugs ruin it.
The threat of natural disaster will always remain for those of us living in Louisiana, but let’s get a grip on the things we can control – like fighting violent crime. I know that in the years to come, Louisianians will continue to demonstrate their resolve and spirit as we rebuild and recover from Hurricane Katrina. And as long as we continue working together, our future will bright.
I’m proud to report that the Senate unanimously passed my bipartisan legislation, the Veterans Small Business Ownership Improvements Act of 2015, which will support our brave servicemen and women as they transition into civilian life as small business entrepreneurs.
My bill offers resources and support to veteran small business owners. Also last week, I was also able to pass 2 other veteran bills, all of which help Louisiana’s entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Specifically, these bills ensure that veterans and their families have appropriate training, agencies are provided essential oversight and program coordination, and the veteran mentor/client matching process is improved.
Click here to watch a recent news story on my Veterans Entrepreneurship bill.
As Chairman of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, I’m committed to providing the best resources for business development and entrepreneurial programs. Right now, business owners find that complying with federal taxes is more burdensome than the actual taxes. Clearly something needs to change, which is why I’ve introduced a bill to help business owners spend less time on confusing paperwork and more time growing their business. Click here for more information.
Do you remember the ALS ice bucket challenge last summer? Folks across the country poured buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. One of the biggest advocates for ALS patients is our own Steve Gleason, formerly with the Saints. He was diagnosed with ALS in January 2011.
This month, we got a big win for the ALS community – Congress passed my Steve Gleason Act, which will make the speech-generating devices that ALS patients use more accessible and affordable. Click here to read more.
Steve and the rest of Team Gleason have been an incredible inspiration. Thanks to their tireless work, we’ll be able change the lives of ALS patients and their families.
Please continue reading below to learn more about other ways I’m working to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate.
No White Flags!
Highlights from July (click the hyperlinks for more information):
Video Spotlight: Fighting Back Against Iran Deal and Sanctuary Cities
I’m concerned that the Obama Administration is putting our country in a dangerous position – from its really bad nuclear deal with Iran to its sanctuary cities policies that are endangering folks across the country. Continue reading below to learn more about these issues.
Speaking Out Against the Iran Deal
Earlier this month, President Obama announced a nuclear deal between the United States and five other nations with Iran. Frankly, this agreement is a really bad deal for America, for Israel, and for freedom. First, under its own terms, the deal accepts Iran eventually getting nuclear weapons. Second, there are huge holes in verification which, to me, make it certain that Iran will successfully cheat. I’ve introduced legislation that would try to help fix this. Click here to read more.
Putting a Stop to Sanctuary Cities
You may have heard about a tragic incidence in San Francisco recently where a young woman, Kate Steinle, was killed by an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported five times after seven felony convictions. He was allowed to live in San Francisco because it’s considered a sanctuary city, or a city that refuses to comply with federal immigration laws. I’ve introduced legislation that would withhold funding from these cities if they continue to ignore our immigration laws. Click here to read more.
Investing in our Highways, Roads and Bridges
Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. That’s why I’ve been working on a long-term highway bill that will make the updates that our nation’s roads and bridges desperately need. And our bill will reduce traffic congestion, which will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. The Senate passed a short-term highway bill this month, and I’ll continue working on legislation to make these long-term investments. Click here to read more.
Investigating Washington’s Obamacare Exemption
I’ve been fighting for years to end Washington’s Exemption from Obamacare. It’s a loophole that allows Washington insiders to get a special subsidy to offset their healthcare costs. As Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, I led an investigation into how this exemption came to be created. My report documents how Congress exempted itself from Obamacare by qualifying itself as a “small business” – even though it employs roughly 15,000 people. Click here to read more.
Five years ago today, the Dodd-Frank financial reform act was signed into law and sold to people as a fix to prevent Wall Street megabank bailouts. But unfortunately, “too big to fail” is far from over. Frankly, it’s more institutionalized now than ever before. On top of that, community banks are under attack by incredibly burdensome regulations enacted by this legislation
We need to adopt a fundamentally different approach to financial reform that’s focused on simpler, more targeted reforms. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I’ve introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Sherrod Brown to even the playing field and better protect taxpayers like you from bailout out the megabanks. It would also give smaller community banks some significant regulatory relief. Earlier this year, I also introduced the Bailout Prevention Act to halt megabank bailouts during a financial crisis. And with Republicans taking control of the Senate, the Senate Banking Committee has also been hard at work crafting a regulatory relief bill that would ease the regulatory burden from Dodd-Frank.
As of February, there are 1,342 fewer community banks in the U.S. than there were in June 2010. This stat is heartbreaking, as financial institutions that once served as the backbone of communities across this country have shuttered due to the ridiculous costs associated with complying with Dodd-Frank. In May, we passed The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015 through the Banking Committee. I’m working hard to reach an agreement on a far-reaching bipartisan bill that would ease community banks regulatory burden, allowing them to thrive and prosper once again.
If another financial crisis happened tomorrow – and that’s still a real risk – nobody doubts that megabanks would be calling on the federal government to bail them out again. This anniversary is not one to celebrate, and that’s why I’m fighting to make sure that taxpayers aren’t footing the bill.