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Editorial: Louisiana well positioned in Congress

Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 6:39 PM

In spite of Louisiana’s unfortunate loss of a congressional seat in Congress, from seven to six representatives, that loss is mitigated somewhat by the seniority of the remaining delegation.

For a small state like Louisiana, seniority is important in Congress, in order to maintain influence and not be swamped by the large populous states. We can thank the Founders for giving us a system of government that helps states, both large and small, retain a measure of independence, sovereignty and power against each other and the federal government

While unity is vital, so is the ability of the people of the individual states to be able to have at least some limited political control over the place where they actually live.

“Even though we’re a small delegation, we’ll continue to punch above our weight,” said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, who represents Southwest Louisiana in Congress.

We currently have five Republicans and one Democrat in the House of Representatives, and one Democrat and one Republican in the Senate. All states have two senators, and the number of representatives is based on the population of the individual states.

“Clearly, losing a member gives us one less seat and one less vote,” Boustany said. “But we’ve accrued significant seniority.”

Boustany will continue to chair the Oversight Subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

That is a particularly important assignment since Ways and Means controls the money bills, and all revenue bills are constitutionally required to originate in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Boustany’s party.

In the Senate, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, will continue her leadership roles chairing both the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and Appropriations’ Homeland Security Subcommittee. Her party controls the Senate.

Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, will also have some power in spite of his party being in the minority. He is now the top GOP member — or “ranking member” — of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Louisiana’s other representatives in the House also have key committee assignments. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, is the new chairman of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee; Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, vice chairman on the House Energy and Power Subcommittee; Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Health Subcommittee; Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs; and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

But to be sure the delegation does what the people of this state want, it is up the people of Louisiana to keep up with the changes proposed in Washington and let their congressional representatives and senators know how they want them to vote on the crucial issues of the day.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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