While the GOP might be doing everything they can to stop budget negotiations from happening in hopes of getting everything they way, Landrieu is working on advancing a pretty important piece of legislation:For more than a month, Senate Republicans have blocked the Senate from appointing members to negotiate a final budget with the GOP-led House.
First, Senate Republicans insisted on an agreement that the negotiated budget not include any tax increases. Now, Republicans are asking for guarantees that the budget won't include an extension of the U.S. debt limit.
This is ticking off Democrats, including Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. Landrieu complained Tuesday that four or five Senate Republicans are using a process that requires unanimous consent to appoint negotiators to prevent a budget from moving forward.
"A few Republican leaders have stopped the entire budget process until they get their way exactly the way they want it," Landrieu said late Tuesday. "That is not the way our government works. We don't have kings anymore. We don't have dictators anymore. We don't have people with special powers.
"We are all humans, and we are all on equal footing. We are all elected to represent our constituents. No one in this Chamber is entitled to write the budget exactly the way they want it."Landrieu spoke after Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said he would object to forming a Senate-House conference to negotiate a budget without agreement that the budget would not be used to extend the debt limit.
"For four years this same group yelled and screamed about not having a budget," Landrieu said. "Now that we have a budget, they are yelling and screaming that they don't want to work out the differences. I honestly don't know how to please colleagues like this." - The Times-Picayune, 5/22/13
Here's a litte more info on Landrieu's bill:U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu filed legislation Tuesday to delay flood insurance hikes for many residents and businesses in southern Louisiana and nationwide that coastal parish officials fear could begin skyrocketing at the end of the year.
The National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization was approved last year in an omnibus bill. Landrieu, D-La., had an amendment that was defeated last week that would have stalled premium increases of 20 percent or more annually for some residents in the program.
The new Strengthen, Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program Act, or SMART NFIP, would indefinitely delay the hikes until six months after Congress receives an affordability study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that implements the program. The bill also protects properties that are currently “grandfathered.”
Landrieu said she has not yet decided on how she will try to move the bill forward.
“It could be standalone. It could be amended onto another bill,” she said. “It could be part of the appropriations process, of which I’d have a good bit of influence on since I chair the committee.”
Landrieu chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA’s funding. - The Advocate, 5/22/13
And in other Landrieu-related news, Landrieu's opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy (R. LA-6) hasn't won over the love of all of the Louisiana GOP delegation and conservatives:The new legislation is in an attempt to modify the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012, which effectively increases flood insurance premiums for homeowners. The higher the water marks, the more the figures grow.
The Act was on one of many laws, including Landrieu’s RESTORE Act, that tacked on to last year’s Senate transportation bill. The Louisiana Senator has repeatedly clarified that she never had an opportunity to vote on Biggert-Waters individually, and that she would have voted “no” had she been given the opportunity.
Under Biggert-Waters, NFIP premiums are set to rise for homeowners who were grandfathered into lower rates, beginning in October of 2014. Rather than paying a fixed rate, premiums for residents of flood-prone areas would reflect risk.
Considering coastal vulnerability to storms, such rate increases would severely impact many South Louisiana folks. Local organizations such as GNO Inc. have joined in the fight. The economic devlopment org held a press conference at the home of Robert and Lisa Taylor, residents of Des Allemandes, La. If Biggert-Waters’ current language was to be enforced, the couple would pay over $28,000 for flood insurance annually.
Landrieu’s new legislation aims to delay such increases, allow for the rebuilding of community facilities that are in velocity zones (v-zones), and repeal provisions that end subsidized rates for new homeowners. If SMART NFIP passes, new homeowners will be able to continue to pay subsidized rates on sold homes. - NOLA Defender, 5/21/13
Cassidy's been working on winning over their support by attacking the Medicaid expansion provision provided by the Affordable Health Care Act:Louisiana's entire Republican congressional delegation is hosting a fundraiser next month for Rep. Bill Cassidy's 2014 Senate campaign. It was a display of GOP unity on behalf of Cassidy, who is challenging three-term Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu.
But one of the sponsors, Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, who considered running against Landrieu before bowing out of the race, said it's too early to infer that he will support Cassidy over other current and potential GOP Senate candidates. "We want to help our friend Bill Cassidy, and we sure want to replace Mary Landrieu, but I don't think it's appropriate to infer anything more than that," said Fleming, who, like Cassidy, is a physician.
Meanwhile, the Senate Conservative Fund, a conservative PAC founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said in an email that it is considering supporting a political newcomer, retired Air Force Col. Robert Maness of Madisonville, in the Louisiana Senate race, Roll Call reported. DeMint now heads the conservative Heritage Foundation. The Conservative Fund says it only endorses strongly conservative candidates.
"We still need to vet Col. Maness to see if he's someone SCF can support, but we're excited about his potential," Senate Conservative Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote in an email obtained by Roll Call." It's encouraging to see people run for office who aren't career politicians and who aren't part to the political establishment." - The Times-Picayune, 5/15/13
If you would like to donate or get involved with the Landrieu campaign, you can do so here:Louisiana’s Republican House members, including Reps. Charles Boustany, John Fleming, Rodney Alexander, Steve Scalise and Bill Cassidy, voted last week to repeal the 2010 health-care law. It was the latest of more than 30 attempts by House Republicans to repeal all or parts of the law.
Cassidy, a physician and a member of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, reintroduced a bill earlier this month that would restructure Medicaid’s payment system.
“I’m not in favor of expanding a broken system, which is unsustainable,” Cassidy said. “But if we could change the system to give the governors and the federal taxpayer and the state taxpayer the sort of flexibility that our bill includes, than I would be. But right now there is no flexibility for how it is implemented.”
Cassidy said some states, such as New York, would fare well under the expansion.
“There are some states that clearly win,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer for them.”
States that would lose the most typically are Southern states with high poverty rates, including Louisiana, Cassidy said.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an advocacy group that supports the health-care law, said expanding Medicaid is key to making sure poor families have insurance.
“The Medicaid expansion creates a floor under which nobody would fall, if the states would adopt it,” Pollack said. “Any governor or state legislature that refuses to implement the Medicaid expansion is committing fiscal malpractice.” - The Town Talk, 5/22/13