This will be the first of a weekly column that follows the actions of US Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter as well as Congressmen Steve Scalise and Cedric Richmond. I intend to summarize notable votes, actions, and hearings they take part in each week.
Not a particularly noteworthy week for David Vitter. He helped reject the Obama jobs bill, S. 1769, but also joined Sens DeMint and Sessions in introducing a bill to prevent the Dept of Justice from suing states over enforcement of immigration laws. The core of this issue is states, most recently Alabama, passing outrageously harmful laws against “illegal” immigrants. Not only do these laws actually harm the economies of the states that pass them, but they arguably overstep state ability to enforce immigration, which is really a federal issue.
Mary Landrieu spent the week getting mad at Bobby Jindal for the cancellation of a broadband grant from the US Dept of Commerce to bring broadband internet to rural areas of LA using federal tax dollars instead of private companies. Also, she and Vitter introduced an interesting bill, the American Mariners Job Protection Act (Jeff Landry is cosponsoring a companion bill in the House). The bill seeks to make it more difficult for the US Maritime Administration to grant waivers to the Jones Act. The Jones Act, enacted some 90 years ago, requires that US vessels be given priority over foreign vessels in moving cargo, unless US vessels are unavailable during a national security crisis. The bill is a protectionist bill that instead of focusing on finding the vessels offering the best deal and subsequent lower prices all the way down to the consumer, prefers to allow US vessels to not have to worry about foreign competition. Yay for higher prices, less competition and Protectionism all in the name of Jobs! I’m all for Louisiana mariners getting contracts and jobs, but if their foreign competition will do it cheaper they should focus on lowering their price and cost instead of running to the government for protection.
House of Representatives
Steve Scalise had only one real action of note last week. In the Energy & Commerce Committee he voted in favor of subpoenaing the White House for documents related to the Solyndra loan guarantee. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of that.
Cedric Richmond issued a press release on Wednesday announcing the Orleans Parish School Board received $7.2 million in FEMA loan forgiveness that he and Senator Landrieu have petitioned for. Also, Richmond has signed on as a co-sponsor to 2 bills, H. Res 452 which will “Recognize the importance labor unions play in ensuring a strong middle class by advocating for more equitable wages, humane work conditions, improved benefits, and increased civic engagement by everyday workers” and HR 3300 which will “establish the Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Poverty which will create and carry out a national plan to cut poverty in American in half in ten years.” Both have been sent to their appropriate committees and hopefully will never make it out.
Fortunately, both Richmond and Scalise voted for “the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act (H.R. 2940) and the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (H.R. 2930), which would help open up additional avenues for small firms to raise capital, start businesses and grow..” -Sam Graves, Chairman of House Committee on Small Business.