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Bill Cassidy speaks at LyondellBasell in Sulphur, La., Friday, Oct.4, 2019. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Legislators in Washington “are working very hard” to get Community Development Block Grants in place to bring extra relief to Southwest Louisiana, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, said in a news conference on Tuesday. Cassidy also clarified claims that the region has not received any federal relief saying, “A substantial amount has come into Southwest Louisiana,” under the Trump administration.

The block grants have been difficult to get approved because 60 senators must vote for it, he said.

“The disasters that occurred in that year were focused on western states or frankly in Louisiana. There weren’t that many across the nation. We’ve been cooperating with the government, John Kennedy, to push the administration to include CDBG in one of the spending bills coming up.”

Cassidy said he “understands” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter’s frustration with the situation. He added that over the next two weeks, there should be effort by the administration to give relief on the ratio that local and state governments must pay for their share of FEMA cost.

Regarding the bi-partisan legislation aimed at improving roads and bridges including the Interstate 10-Calcasieu River bridge, Mississippi River Bridge and I-49, Cassidy said he remains hopeful of the outcome. “We’re inches away from the goal line but we don’t want a goal line stand.”

Cooperation from the White House and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are vital to the bill’s success. New roads and bridges are much more than a luxury, he added.

Roads and bridges create jobs and are good for the country. “This is a critical issue, not just for lifestyle but for economic development,” he said.

In other news, Haitian immigrants reportedly dropped off in Baton Rouge and Shreveport are a product of the “incoherence and dysfunction of the Biden administration’s immigration and border policies,.” Overcrowding of detention centers seems to be the cause for the release of detained immigrants, though Cassidy’s team has not been able to make contact with decision makers regarding the incidents.

“My understanding is that they’re here illegally. That’s why they’re in the custody of ICE. The most I can surmise is that the facilities are overflowing. Clearly this is out of hand. The administration’s border policy has clearly failed.”

Cassidy also commented on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recent guidance that all children should wear masks in school this year, vaccinated or not, saying that he defers to the Center for Disease Control for COVID-19 guidance.

“If they feel (CDC) children are a way the virus is being transmitted, they’re going to put out that recommendation. I encourage people to listen to the CDC. I will point out, if the incidence of infection is low, it is unlikely that a local mandate will be put into place. If people take the vaccine, they don’t get infected (and) the incident of infection will be lower.”

Similarly, he encouraged all adults to seek guidance from their personal health professionals concerning vaccine guidance rather than relying on political figures for medical advice. “Patients just need to speak to their doctor,” he said.

“Talk to the people that actually have listened to the literature.”

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