Cassidy seeking additional hurricane relief aid for SW La.

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy on Tuesday said he is hoping there could be additional funds on the way for Southwest Louisiana to assist with ongoing recovery efforts from both Hurricanes Delta and Laura, as part of a potential continuing resolution associated with an interim budget deal expected to be signed in late December or early January.

Cassidy said during a teleconference with media members that in regards to the budget deal, there is “a lot of interest” in statewide Hurricane Ida relief, but he is pushing to include some Laura and Delta relief.

“I feel cautiously optimistic that we will certainly take care of Ida, and we continue to push for Laura and Delta, as well,” he said.

Ongoing discussions of budgetary concerns and of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill have taken up much of the discussion time on the Senate floor as of late, and Cassidy expressed frustration that those discussions have put other matters including the National Defense Authorization Act essentially “on a back burner” as its deadline looms.

“In 60 years this is one of the latest years Congress has gone without passing the National Defense Authorization Act,” Cassidy said.

The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act includes $73 million for Louisiana military bases including Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base. The bill would allocate $25 million to Fort Polk to build an informational systems facility. Another $48 million has been earmarked to fund construction work at Barksdale’s entrance gate structure that would further the base’s plans to build a nearly $300 million weapons storage facility.

Legislation hit a snag on Monday as partisan disputes blocked the bill from advancing. An effort to end the debate and advance the bill fell short of 60 votes needed to move the bill to the president’s desk.

While Cassidy said he has successfully crossed partisan lines and is working with key Democrats to put together amendments that will make the NDAA stronger, some partisan mindsets have been counterproductive to the bill’s ultimate acceptance.

“We all understand that a key responsibility of the federal government is national defense, and that should be something which is not partisan whatsoever,” Cassidy said.

“But at some point it becomes partisan and when it becomes caught up in partisan politics, it does not benefit our country. We kind of need a healing for America; we need to move beyond partisanship just for the sake of partisanship so that we can start doing the core function of what the government should be doing. And this is a great example of that.”