House majority

The six sitting Louisiana congressmen are "positioned really well to have a lot of influence in the next Congress," U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson said Tuesday.

Johnson, R-Benton, told the American Press editorial board that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, has a "very good chance" of becoming the next speaker of the House if the GOP holds onto the majority in the House. Johnson said he is in a race to be the next chair of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives in the House with roughly 150 members.

What the Louisiana House delegation lacks in numbers and seniority, they make up with a teamwork approach, he said.

Despite what people think about President Donald Trump's personal life or his "tweeting habits," unemployment rates are low, and consumer confidence is high, Johnson said. Most of that is because of the tax and regulatory reforms.

"Everything is trending in the right direction," he said. "He is following through on his promises, and that's what the people elected him to do."

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be "an exceptional member of the court," Johnson said.

"We have too many activist judges in this country," he said. "A judge is supposed to be impartial; they're not supposed to pick winners and losers."

While sexual assault claims should be taken seriously, Johnson said there was no evidence to back up Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school in the 1980s.

"While we have great compassion for her and what she's obviously suffered somewhere in her life, I don't think you can bring down a good man with an extraordinary record going back decades because of this allegation that's unfounded," he said.

Johnson said he is fearful that the precedent set by the Kavanaugh hearings will scare off future qualified Supreme Court nominees.

More than 150 lawmakers have signed Johnson's "Commitment to Civility." He spoke of the need to tone down the negativity among lawmakers.

"If we lose that, our system doesn't operate," Johnson said.

Fort Polk is an "underutilized asset," and Johnson said he is advocating to have more missions held there.

Johnson said he continues to fight for long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. The program is set to expire at the end of November.

"We've got colleagues across the country who think the whole thing is unnecessary and wasteful," he said. "If we don't take care of the coast and floodplains of Louisiana, the whole country suffers from that."

If the GOP holds its majority in Congress, Johnson said an infrastructure package could be expected in the first quarter of 2019. One major concern, however, is the federal government expecting some matching funds from the states.

"As we stand today, Louisiana might be the least best situated state to have that negotiation because we don't have our house in order," he said. "Our style of state government is not working very well. We have to prioritize spending."

Calcasieu Parish Government and Cameron Parish Reporter

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