May 6, 2021 | Editorials

President Biden will soon arrive in Southwest Louisiana to pitch his latest $2+ trillion spending proposal. While it’s nice that the President is visiting our state, his first 100 days have left much to be desired.

Southwest Louisiana has significant hurricane recovery and infrastructure needs, which should be viewed firsthand. However, Louisianans deserve more than a sales pitch. We need honest answers about how the administration’s policies will help or hurt Louisiana on a number of issues.

Hurricane Recovery

Two major hurricanes hitting the same parishes a month apart presented significant challenges and requires an extended, large-scale recovery effort. As our communities continue to rebuild, my office and the entire Louisiana delegation remain committed to providing needed assistance and supporting the impacted areas.

To date, we have worked with our federal partners to deliver over $1 billion in relief funding to Louisiana. These resources support housing and rental assistance, utility repairs, debris removal, hazard mitigation, and other disaster response costs. Working with both President Trump and President Biden, we were able to secure increased federal assistance for hurricane recovery efforts. While this has helped to address many of Southwest Louisiana’s immediate needs, we also recognize the importance of long-term recovery resources.

My office has worked for months to build support in Congress for a supplemental disaster relief bill. While that support exists broadly, the Biden administration is legally tasked with first making a request to Congress for supplemental funding. Earlier this year, my office also introduced disaster recovery amendments that would have prioritized up to $10 billion of the Disaster Relief Fund for Southwest Louisiana. The Democratic majority blocked that amendment. We also delivered an official request for supplemental disaster relief directly to Speaker Pelosi. She has yet to respond to our request. However, we will not stop pushing.

I am hopeful that President Biden will address Southwest Louisiana’s recovery needs while in Lake Charles. His support and a subsequent request for long-term recovery resources would boost the Louisiana delegation’s efforts.

In the meantime, none of the Federal agencies that have authority over disaster recovery programs have ever come close to running out of money. Scores of millions of dollars that have already been set aside through various programs for Louisiana recovery remain available. Navigating through the application process to access these monies can be difficult, and our office has helped many local government entities, businesses, and families push through the complicated application procedures and receive their recovery assistance. This is an ongoing mission. Every day, our District and DC staff work on helping Louisiana stand back up.

Actual Infrastructure Funding

In his first 100 days, President Biden has proposed $6 trillion in new spending. Part of that is a $2.3 trillion proposal labeled as infrastructure funding. It’s not. It’s a front for the Green New Deal.

This has been a trademark of the Biden strategy, framing his proposals under bipartisan priorities like infrastructure investment or COVID relief when those issues only account for small portions of the bill. For example, less than 7% of the $2.3 trillion would be spent on roads, bridges, ports, waterways, and airports. The rest would be used to push Green New Deal mandates, expand government welfare programs, and advance other unrelated liberal spending items. It’s part of an attempt to fundamentally expand the size, scope, and influence of the federal government.

Any infrastructure bill passed through Congress should be focused on real infrastructure projects, not Green New Deal priorities. Last month, my office delivered an official letter calling on the Biden administration to approve Louisiana’s request for INFRA grant funding for a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge. I am hopeful that President Biden will announce on Thursday that his administration has approved that request. The completion of essential I-10 corridor infrastructure is long overdue and would deliver a significant win for both Louisiana and the nation.

My office supports investments in safe, modern, and reliable infrastructure. Since coming to Congress, we’ve battled to advance local projects and secure federal investments. However, those investments should be targeted, focused on economic growth, and not bundled with unrelated spending as part of some Frankenstein bill.

Energy Policy

The oil and gas industry is the backbone of Southwest Louisiana’s economy. Southwest Louisiana’s petrochemical refineries produce many of the materials that make modern life possible, and our region is the epicenter for American LNG exports. Those energy producers are also the primary target of the Biden administration’s job-killing energy policies.

We’ve seen this administration revoke permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, enact a federal drilling moratorium, rejoin the misguided Paris Agreement, and begin implementing Green New Deal standards. The resurgence of these Obama-era policies will have the same outcome now as they did then, the destruction of American jobs, higher energy costs, and increased production overseas.

This is all being done in the name of environmentalism. However, the United States is the global leader in emissions reductions. This is happening because of American innovation, not big government mandates. Private companies are running cleaner operations because innovation is good for business. The result is cleaner, more efficient fuel production. Still, the Biden administration is moving forward with policies that injure American energy production while giving the world’s largest polluters like China, India, and Russia a free pass.

The President should square with Louisiana energy workers who are out of work. Why does he continue to put American workers and American industry last? His policies don’t help the world’s ecology, and they certainly aren’t helping to create jobs in Louisiana.

Border Security

The border crisis is a threat to our Republic. President Biden’s campaign rhetoric and overzealous reversal of effective Trump-era policies are directly responsible for this crisis. He created it.

The suspension of wall system construction, reinstatement of catch-and-release practices, reversal of the Remain in Mexico policy, and the promise of mass amnesty invited this surge of illegal immigration. These policies have empowered criminal cartels who smuggle humans and drugs. That activity doesn’t stop at the border. It filters into every community across the United States.

As the lead Republican on the Border Security Subcommittee, I have repeatedly called on President Biden to address the border crisis. He hasn’t answered our requests. The Biden administration cannot continue its policy of weakness. American demands effective border security policies and Republicans have put forth real solutions.

When President Biden visits Louisiana on Thursday, he should also travel down to the border. It’s only about an hour further to McAllen, TX on Air Force One. He should witness the border crisis firsthand, just as I have.

These are among the many issues that the Biden administration must address. While the President’s visit to Lake Charles is a nice gesture, his policies have thus far been injurious to our state.

Congressman Clay Higgins represents Louisiana’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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