U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins is aware of the upcoming Nov. 6 election to retain his 3rd District seat, but he said he remains focused on “working and serving.”
Higgins, R-Port Barre, told the American Press editorial board on Thursday that initial projections show him “winning soundly” in the general election. If re-elected, he said he wants to “further advance the conservative agenda” in the House.
Higgins was first elected to the House in December 2016, beating out fellow Republican Scott Angelle. Since then, he said he passed seven pieces of legislation and four amendments, second only to freshman U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. He said the measures were big wins for the state.
“It’s a noteworthy accomplishment for the street cop kicked into Washington, D.C., by a conservative district,” Higgins said.
Higgins sits on three House committees and six subcommittees, where he said lawmakers get the most recognition for being prepared and respected.
Within his district, Higgins said caseworkers and field representatives have helped close nearly 1,600 constituent cases. They ranged from issues with Veterans Affairs, Social Security and passports.
“At home, service is our most rewarding thing,” he said.
Higgins said officials are reviewing one plan to replace the aging Interstate 10 bridge. He said the existing bridge is structurally unsafe, according to modern standards, but it remains structurally sound.
“It’s not subject to fall,” Higgins said. “In fact, I’ve been told by engineers that demolition of the bridge would be quite a task.”
The proposal includes several factors. The footprint will be designed to have the least impact on bridge traffic and private property owners. It will include a north loop through Westlake, relieve local traffic and reduce the bridge’s height from more than 90 feet to 73 feet. The plan may also call for the existing bridge to be used during evacuations.
“This is a two- or three-term thing,” Higgins said. “I believe that potentially in my second term you could see actual progress where the community says, ‘Wow, this is what our actual bridge is going to look like.’ “
Higgins said he helped secure $256 million in federal funding for dredging and water management projects within the district. He called the state’s ports the “heartbeats of economic growth.”
“We’re not done with that,” Higgins said of securing money.
There will be additional reforms to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Higgins said. Since the act was approved, he said the nation’s average gross domestic product has grown from 1.9 percent to more than 3 percent.
“We’ve done what we can at the federal level to ignite economy, and it’s worked,” Higgins said.
Louisiana’s oil and gas industry has lagged behind states like Texas and Oklahoma, with 10,000 unemployed residents statewide, Higgins said. He placed the blame on some state policies, including the 12.5 percent severance tax on the value of oil extracted. The same tax is 4.6 percent in Texas.
“Where would you launch a new project,” Higgins asked.
Higgins added that Louisiana has a “toxic legal environment” when it comes to litigation related to fossil fuels.
With House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing in April that he would not seek re-election, he said U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, would be a good fit for the position. Scalise currently serves as House Majority Whip.