Washington Watch: Handicapping the 6th District race

Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race this year and the 2015 governor’s election loom over much of the state’s politicking, but 6th Congressional District campaigns are quietly picking up steam. With U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, vacating his seat to challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., there is a slowly evolving free-for-all to replace him. State Sen. Dan … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Vet clinic expansion still on hold

The Louisiana congressional delegation was hoping that by the end of the year Congress would have approved the much-delayed expansion of veterans health care clinics in Lafayette, Lake Charles and 25 other locations around the nation. The House came through and approved the legislation, but it looks like final Senate approval will have to wait until 2014. … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Louisiana in the line of falling dominoes

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

Let’s play a little game of dominoes, or maybe musical chairs is more apt, and determine how political moves involving Montana and China could impact Louisiana’s 2014 U.S. Senate election. News broke last week that President Barack Obama is planning to appoint Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as the new U.S. ambassador to China. Baucus, a … Continue reading →

Washington briefs: Mary Landrieu counters criticism

National Democrats have taken the offensive, attacking U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who is challenging Mary Landrieu, D-La., for her Senate seat next year. The Democratic-led Senate Majority PAC launched a new statewide commercial criticizing Cassidy that reportedly cost more than $200,000. The ad blames Cassidy for the government shutdown in October and for supporting entitlement … Continue reading →

Washington Watch for Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The U.S. House finally caught the holiday spirit and came together to approve a two-year budget deal on an overwhelming 332-to-94 vote in order to avoid another government shutdown in mid-January. No one seemed particularly thrilled with the deal. The theme was to essentially suck it up and accept the compromise. But compromise they did. Now, … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Change in finance rule could change race

Lawyer and fundraiser Charlie Spies is ready for Louisiana to do away in January with its $100,000 limit to contributions to political action committees. The issue is scheduled for consideration at the Louisiana Board of Ethics’ January meeting, according to Ethics Board Administrator Kathleen Allen. If Spies gets his way, then consider U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Sequestration on the horizon

The U.S. economy is performing a little better than expected. Employers added more than 200,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate is down to 7 percent, according to the Labor Department, which is the lowest it’s been since 2008 when the recession first hit. The economy is still struggling overall, consumer confidence is fairly low, … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Flood projects in conference

A bicameral conference committee is tasked with forging a compromise version of the Water Resources Development Act legislation that would streamline the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and better fund port and river dredging projects. But the question for South Louisiana is whether the final bill will include authorization of the $10 billion … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Richmond criticizes screening

R ep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, took aim at airport passenger screening processes that critics contend are ineffective and often resemble racial profiling. Richmond focused on a new Government Accountability Office report that specifically looked at the Transportation Security Administration’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program. Through SPOT, … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Vitter introduces sequestration bill

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., teamed with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., to introduce the new Return Our State Shares Act to exempt certain programs, including the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, from being impacted by the ongoing sequestration budget cuts. The trust fund came from the RESTORE Act legislation signed into law … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Senate attracts outsider dollars

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

Be prepared. The outsiders are coming. The 2014 Senate election featuring U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., with U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, as her best-funded competition, is still a year away, but the out-of-state money is already flowing in heavily with much more to come. The first cannons going off come from the Virginia-based Americans … Continue reading →

Washington briefs: Vitter takes aim at staff exemptions

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is pushing legislation called the “Show Your Exemption” Act, which would require all members of Congress make public the names of staff members they are allowing to stay off the Affordable Care Act health care exchanges. Rank-and-file congressional staffers, by law, are required to obtain their insurance through the exchanges, although they … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Big money coming into U.S. Senate race

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The 2014 U.S Senate race in Louisiana is expected to easily become the most expensive political campaign in the state’s history. In her re-election bid, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., already has a war chest of $5.78 million and the election is a year away. Her best-funded competitor, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, … Continue reading →

Around Washington for Oct. 28, 2013

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The 2014 U.S. Senate race between Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is generally considered a “toss-up” by most pundits and ratings. Prominent University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato is scoring the race as “Leans Democratic” on his Sabato’s Crystal Ball website in the wake of the partial government shutdown. “Down … Continue reading →

Washington Watch for Oct. 27, 2013

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

Monroe businessman Vance McAllister joined the 14-person field for the vacant 5th congressional district seat at the last minute, and few paid it much mind at first, except that he possessed the ability to largely self-finance his campaign. But he then put together a campaign and media team with Washington, D.C.-area firms such … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Fleming defiant after shutdown

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, was one of the most adamant supporters of the “Defund Obamacare” movement that led to the partial government shutdown. He has called the Affordable Care Act the most dangerous law ever passed by Congress, and he voted against the bipartisan compromise that ended the … Continue reading →

Around Washington for Monday, Oct. 14, 2013

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

West Monroe residents and “Duck Dynasty” television stars Willie and Korie Robertson were honored this past week in Washington, D.C., with the 15th annual Angels in Adoption award. The honor came from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute that is co-chaired by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Sen. David Vitter, R-La.; and Rep. Bill … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Sides line up in government shutdown fight

The end of the month is looming with a partial government shutdown at risk after the U.S. House approved Friday a needed budget stopgap that defunded “Obamacare.” Some conservatives have argued in favor of drawing a stronger line in the sand on the need to raise the federal debt limit in mid-October, rather than risk being … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Obamacare fight still raging

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

A potential government shutdown is just two weeks away as Con- gress continues to feud over a necessary budget stopgap at the end of the month and whether to involve the fight over the Affordable Care Act health-care law. Dozens of House Republicans, and some in the Senate, are … Continue reading →

Washington Watch for Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013

Did U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, propose versions of “Obamacare” before the president was in office? Did U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., line her pockets with the cash of BP lobbyists through real estate dealings? These are the accusations on the table as their 2014 Senate race begins to heat up. Accuracy is often … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Wild run for the 5th congressional district

A whopping 14 people — all men — qualified on short notice for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated next month by U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman. That amount far exceeds any of last year’s congressional races in Louisiana that all featured incumbents. But there shouldn’t be a whole lot of surprise that there’s a large … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: U.S. Senate ads quack

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The premiere of the overwhelmingly popular, West Monroe-based “Duck Dynasty” television show came last week and brought with it a new attack on Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. The National Republican Senatorial Committee funded a commercial during the show that looked like the iconic 1985 Nintendo video game “Duck Hunt” to target Landrieu for alleged misfires on … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Vitter to help uninsured

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., may be an opponent of the Affordable Care Act health care law, but he said he’s still going to do everything he can to help people without insurance enroll in the health-care exchanges beginning Oct. 1. At a recent town-hall event in Hammond, Vitter told the local television station his office … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: What will Alexander do?

Speculation on the top GOP contenders for governor in 2015 have focused mostly on U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Treasurer John N. Kennedy. But none of them are political allies of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is term limited. Some, in fact, have criticized the governor at times, especially on matters … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Budget stalemate pondered

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

Congress officially began its August recess but won’t, at least in the near future, slow down talks over the continuing federal budget stalemate that looms in September, another debt-ceiling fight and a last-ditch GOP effort to defund the Affordable Care Act before more parts of it are implemented beginning Oct. 1. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Congress lurks toward new low

The public can endlessly debate what private contractor and Moscow airport resident Edward Snowden has or has not accomplished by leaking government surveillance records. But, if nothing else, he certainly succeeded in creating one of the most bizarre mixes of bipartisan U.S. House votes this past week when a measure by Rep. … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: French diplomat to honor Cajun historian 

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The French ambassador to the U.S. is honoring one of Louisiana’s own Wednesday in Washington for significantly contributing to French culture. William Arceneaux, a Cajun historian who headed the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, is set to receive the French insignia of Commander of the Order of Academic Palms from Ambassador François … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Questions remain on student loan interest rates

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The Senate finally has a tentative compromise to retroactively fix the doubling of interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans that occurred on July 1 for more than 7 million new borrowers this fall. The interest rates for undergraduate college students who are new borrowers jumped from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent when Congress was unable … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: U.S. Senate prepares “to go nuclear”

Th is week, Congress may just go “nuclear.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is threatening and pressing to use the “nuclear option” to confirm a handful of President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees that the GOP repeatedly has threatened to filibuster. Senate Republicans have routinely used the filibuster procedural move to require most … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Obamacare delay seen as political

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The Fourth of July week is supposed to represent a slow news week, with Congress in recess and millions of people vacationing or barbecuing. But that changed a bit with the Obama administration nonchalantly dropping the news that it was delaying until 2015 — after the midterm elections — a key provision of the Patient Protection … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Stand by for student loan rate increases

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

More than 7 million new borrowers of subsidized Stafford student loans could see their rates double on Monday without congressional action — and Congress is on a one-week recess. The interest rate for Stafford loan borrowers, including nearly 85,000 college students in Louisiana, will increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent while Congress is locked in a … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: La. delegation deeply divided

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The U.S. House surprisingly — and suddenly — managed to kill its own version of the federal farm bill with the food stamp funding debate exposing the extreme partisan divide in the congressional chamber. As The Hill publication quoted an angry GOP House member, “We can’t even do a (insert expletive here) farm bill.” The … Continue reading →

Washington briefs: Richmond pitches D.C. shutout

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, predicted a win before the game and then promptly backed up his words with a pitching shutout to yet again star in the annual Congressional Baseball Game. The Democrats beat the Republicans for the fourth straight year and did so in overwhelming fashion with a 22-0 victory — the … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Cassidy and conservatism

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was one of the deciding votes for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The “Obamacare” law is the bane of the GOP and Republicans will hang it around her neck at every opportunity leading up to her 2014 re-election effort. But Landrieu is owning her vote and … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: The politics of the IRS

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The Internal Revenue Service is an easy target these days, what with its own targeting of tea party groups, its ridiculous “training” videos that spoof things like “Star Trek” and its seemingly excessive employee conferences. This is all added on top of the belief that no one really likes the IRS in the first place. … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Racism comments in BR impact US Senate race

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., isn’t facing re-election for nearly another 18 months, but don’t tell that to national Republicans and Democrats. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is busy putting out a slew of attacks against Landrieu, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has held its own, taking shots at her top opponent thus far, U.S. … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: The politics of flood insurance

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

The fear of federal flood insurance rates skyrocketing for thousands of south Louisiana residents next year is bringing together Republicans and Democrats to work on solutions through Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But the reality is that, when politics are involved, things often get mushy. Congress caused the problem last year by approving … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Company criticizes Vitter 

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

A major mobile phone corporation launched an attack on Sen. David Vitter, R-La., during the same week the senator used social media websites to ask people for pictures of “free cell phone” booths and signs. Earlier this month, Vitter filed legislation to end the GOP-maligned subsidies for low-income families to receive mobile phone services. … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Uncivil politics has long history

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

LSU invaded Washington last week for the 2013 Breaux Symposium – named after retired U.S. Sen. John Breaux, D-La. — to help find a way toward “Making Congress Work: A Guide for Representatives, Senators and Citizens.” The event was put on by the LSU Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University and the … Continue reading →

Washington Watch: Delegation’s power growing on Capitol Hill

Whether it was U.S. Sen. Russell Long chairing the Senate Finance Committee for parts of three decades, or Congressman Hale Boggs, of New Orleans, serving as House majority leader, the Louisiana congressional delegation for many years held an outsized reputation. Toward the end of the 20th century and through the past decade, that sway in Washington … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: BR native gets watchdog job

Washington Bureau writer Jordan Blum

Baton Rouge native Bradley Beychok is moving up in the world of Washington politics with his new promotion to president of the liberal watchdog group, Media Matters for America. Beychok previously moved to Washington to serve as the campaign director for the Democratic Party-aligned American Bridge 21st Century Super PAC. After the November elections, he … Continue reading →

Washington Briefs: Obamacare participation

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., filed similar pieces of legislation to force President Barack Obama and his cabinet secretaries to personally participate in the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. The “In It All Together Act” by Cassidy, who supports repealing the health-care law, was filed after talks were … Continue reading →