Changing tone in Washington

Lawmakers seek to restore dignity, respect to Congress

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p><strong>‘We need to listen to each other; people expect us to act like grown-ups, and we should.’</strong><br /><strong>U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson</strong><br />R-Bossier City</p>” id=”7e254b95-a380-41d0-8941-252532695354″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent”}}

Civility is the key to turning things around in the Louisiana Legislature, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson said during a stop to the American Press offices this week.

Johnson, R-Bossier City, said he and other freshman congressmen recently signed a pledge to change the tone in Washington and have lawmakers treat each other with dignity and respect.

“Fifty-three out of 55 (lawmakers) ultimately signed on to this contract we made with one another to act like adults and not throw chairs — pretty simple stuff,” he said.

After U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, was shot in June during a practice session for the congressional baseball team, Johnson said he was approached to make it a Congresswide project.

“As of last week, we have 120 congressmen signed on — everyone from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to John Lewis, the legendary civil rights leader,” he said. “I mentioned that to the Louisiana House and told all my former colleagues and dear friends that we need more of that. We need to listen to each other; people expect us to act like grown-ups, and we should.”

Before being elected to Congress, Johnson served nearly two years as a state legislator, representing Bossier Parish. He said the dynamic in Louisiana differs from Washington.

“There’s something really special about it,” he said. “I know everyone here has dramatically different ideas on how to solve our state’s problems, but the one thing I take great comfort in is everyone here genuinely wants what’s best for the state and they are genuinely trying to do their best.”

Johnson said lawmakers have the same end goal in mind, but want to take different routes to get there. He said residents are starting to demand that lawmakers debate ideas civilly and “come up with the best compromises.”

“It’s so bitterly partisan and divided right now, and we have to have dialogue with our colleagues across the aisle,” Johnson said. “We’re there to make good policy together … in Washington and in Baton Rouge.”

Two pieces of federal legislation Johnson said he’s proud to have played a part in are tax cuts and regulatory reform.

“Everybody doesn’t even really know what a big benefit it is until they do their taxes for 2018,” he said. “We doubled the marital deduction, for example. Instead of the first $12,000, now it’s the first $24,000 of income that’s tax-free, and that’s going to make a big difference to people. Plus the child tax credit increase.”

While hosting town hall meetings across Louisiana, Johnson said Republicans and Democrats thanked him for supporting the tax cuts.

“It matters to people,” he said. “I think that kind of good feeling has helped the economy rock along, and we’re just trying to continue that.”

Johnson said one of President Donald Trump’s goals was to repeal two existing federal regulations before imposing any new ones.

“The actual ratio right now is 22 to 1,” he said. “We’re repealing 22 burdensome, unnecessary, duplicative regulations for every one new regulation.”

The reforms are already impacting local business, Johnson said.

“It’s helping people invest in businesses and add more jobs, and we’ve desperately have needed that in this state,” he said.

Johnson said an infrastructure package will likely be approved next year. President Trump and Congress have stated they will expect matching funding on the state level, something Johnson said state lawmakers should prepare for.

“It will be a substantial requirement on the state level, and we are probably least best positioned to do that in the South right now,” he said. “We have to get our house in order so we can be at the table and take advantage of all these opportunities. That’s a real challenge right now.”

Johnson said the bridges in Louisiana are on a 578-year replacement cycle and are engineered to last 80 years. He said the bridges have “so much deferred maintenance,” and delaying projects only boosts their costs down the road.

“The stakes can’t be any higher than they are now,” Johnson said. “If we don’t have our bridges in order, the economic boom can’t happen. To have commercial transport you have to have good roadways.”

 
 

‘We need to listen to each other; people expect us to act like grown-ups, and we should.’

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson

R-Bossier City

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