$2.62 billion in federal spending for Louisiana - Southern Business Review

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

$2.62 billion in federal spending for Louisiana

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy | Southern Business Review

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy on Monday touted $2.62 billion in federal spending for Louisiana, counting appropriations from the current fiscal year and disaster-relief funding approved last year.
“I’m not saying that’s all my doing,” the Republican senator said, adding that the state’s entire delegation works together. “It does help to have someone from your state as a member of the appropriations committee.”
Like most states, Louisiana gets back more tax money than it sends to the federal government. According to information distributed by Kennedy’s office, the bulk of recent spending for Louisiana – $1.78 billion – were U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appropriations, including 55 flood control, storm protection and navigation projects. The total includes $760 million for the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain levee and drainage project and $343 million for the Comite River Diversion Canal.
Louisiana also received $814 million in highway funds and $21.6 million in aviation grants, Kennedy’s office says.
Kennedy told the Baton Rouge Press Club that Democratic “Medicare for all” proposals have no chance to pass the Senate. He said he didn’t think major health care legislation could be enacted until those proposals are off the table, though he supports several proposals that “nibble around the edges” such as attempts to ban “surprise” medical bills.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, recently signed a bill pushed by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry that purports to enact a Louisiana-level replacement for the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” though Edwards said he didn’t think the bill would do much good. Landry is one of the state attorneys general who is suing to have the ACA declared unconstitutional.
During the recent legislative session, Landry and Republican Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon told lawmakers they expected Congress to continue funding the subsidies and the Medicaid expansion currently provided by the ACA if the act is thrown out. It would cost Louisiana hundreds of millions of dollars annually to provide those benefits.
Kennedy said he hadn’t read the court filings but supported the general concept of declaring the act unconstitutional. Asked if he thought Congress would continue the federal subsidies, he answered “maybe.”
“It’s going to have to be heavily subsidized,” Kennedy said of the Louisiana proposal, which includes a high-risk insurance pool for consumers with potentially expensive medical conditions. “I would certainly do everything I could to help Louisiana.”
While Kennedy expressed support for the Trump administration’s trade and tax policies regarding China, he said the president “scared me half to death” with his threatened tariffs on Mexico that were rescinded. Mexico is Louisiana’s biggest foreign trading partner, he said.
“We’ve got a huge trade surplus with Mexico in Louisiana,” he said.
On Monday, Kennedy and fellow Louisiana Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy announced Swiss regulators had ordered a private bank to hand over $105.7 million associated with Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Investors, many based in Louisiana and Texas, have been trying to recover some of their money.
“This is a welcome decision that brings some justice to thousands of Louisiana families victimized by the Stanford Ponzi Scheme,” Cassidy said in a prepared statement. “No doubt SocGen [the Swiss bank] will challenge this ruling, but I urge the Swiss courts to carry out this decision.”
Kennedy also praised the decision. But he told the Baton Rouge Press Club that he worried the court-appointed receiver would take too large of a cut of the recovered money.