Members of La.’s congressional delegation discussed priorities with Pres. Biden; White House says it is helping Americans return to work

President Biden traveled to Louisiana last week to discuss his infrastructure package
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 7:20 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - When Air Force One brought President Biden to Louisiana last week some members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation got to speak to him about needed funding for disaster relief and infrastructure needs.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican, is Louisiana’s senior U.S. Senator.

“What I specifically mentioned was the need to have his support for a supplemental disaster relief bill. Our state has been hit by hurricanes, by a winter storm and we had a pandemic in the background and so we spoke about that and he was supportive,” said Cassidy.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, also spoke to Biden when he arrived at the New Orleans airport.

“I first asked him to support disaster relief in Louisiana from our hurricanes and our storms,” said Kennedy.

Democrat Troy Carter who was sworn in this week as Louisiana’s new District 2 congressman also was on the tarmac to greet Biden.

“It was really cool, freshman member, just getting elected to have the president come and tour your district is huge,” said Carter.

He said having the president hear and see some of the state’s infrastructure needs was important.

“I’m greatly appreciative of the president and his team for recognizing one, the needs in Louisiana, but two, coming firsthand to talk about our ports, talk about our Sewerage and Water Board, talk about our roads and bridges, to talk about rapid rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, something that we should have had years ago,” Carter stated.

Cassidy and Kennedy said they remain opposed to the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal Biden has rolled out. They say it is bloated with too much other spending but also said they are open to reaching a bipartisan deal.

“We should be able to get to a bipartisan deal if they offer something, the administration that actually spends most of the money, not just a fraction on infrastructure as in roads, bridges, airports, and ports,” said Cassidy.

“In order for us to reach agreement here’s what we have to do, President Biden is going to have to accept that infrastructure means infrastructure,” said Kennedy.

Cassidy and Kennedy also commented on the jobs report for April which showed the U.S. only added 266,000 jobs.

There are several reasons that we got a bad jobs report. First, as I said panic carefully, this is only one report,” said Kennedy.

Cassidy blamed White House policies.

“It’s a message. President Biden’s policies are getting in the way of our recovery,” said Cassidy.

Both were asked whether Louisiana should follow the lead of a handful of other states who say they will end the extra $300 jobless benefit that came about because of the coronavirus pandemic and is funded by the federal government.

Cassidy and Kennedy said such a step would be up to Governor John Bel Edwards and the state legislature. Still, they acknowledged that some businesses in Louisiana are having difficulty getting workers to return.

“I’m with parish leaders in St. Bernard Parish last week, a business owner telling me directly that he’s unable to find employees because the government is paying folks more to stay at home than he can pay,” said Cassidy.

Kennedy said for some people fear of catching the virus is also a factor.

“If they can make more not working than working many of them are going to choose to not work and stay at home with their kids,” he said.

The White House says it is taking additional steps to help Americans return to work.

The Biden administration says the president’s American Rescue Plan approved by Congress this year provides funding to stabilize the childcare industry and grants are available for small businesses like restaurants and bars that were hard-hit by the pandemic.

Also, President Biden says anyone receiving unemployment benefits who is offered a suitable job must take it or lose their benefits.

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