Louisiana

Congress’ Hurricane Caucus Keeps On Growing
Sheila Jackson Lee: ‘You’re answering phones. You’re answering questions. You’re giving hugs’

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s district weathered Hurricane Harvey last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the days after a hurricane, a member of Congress is “an information post, a local comforter, a problem solver,” Sheila Jackson Lee said.

The Texas Democrat knows what her colleagues hit by Hurricane Florence are going through. Her district weathered Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Louisiana Rep. Johnson Claims California Atheists Are Trying to Spy on Students
Accusation relates to a federal lawsuit against public schools accused of teaching Christianity

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., accused atheist groups in California of spying on a school in his district where officials have been accused of teaching Christianity. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mike Johnson, who represents a vast swath of Louisiana’s northwestern corner, accused California atheist groups of trying to spy on students at a school in his district by taking covert video.

“WARNING TO OUR FRIENDS IN BOSSIER SCHOOLS (Please share),” Johnson wrote on Facebook Tuesday, referring to Louisiana’s Bossier Parish (the state’s equivalent of a county) that includes parts of Shreveport.

Scalise Tells Canada Time Is Running Out to Join NAFTA Update
Trade negotiations with Ottawa remain ongoing despite pressure from Trump administration

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise wants Canada to quickly wrap up NAFTA talks. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

A top House Republican leader warned Canada on Tuesday that his chamber will move ahead with a review and vote on a U.S.-Mexico trade agreement in principle without Canada if Ottawa doesn’t quickly wrap up NAFTA talks.

“Members are concerned that Canada does not seem to be ready or willing to make the concessions that are necessary for a fair and high-standard agreement,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise said in a statement.

Extra Hurricane Relief Cash Could Wait Until After Elections
Ryan: ‘Right now FEMA has money in the pipeline’

Residents of Spring Lake, North Carolina, are evacuated from their apartments as flood waters rise. FEMA enters the recovery phase with coffers flush with cash. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has more than enough money to assist states hit by Hurricane Florence and likely won’t need Congress to pass an emergency disaster aid bill in the coming weeks, based on figures provided to lawmakers.

Due to lawmakers’ largesse when they provided more than $136 billion in late 2017 and earlier this year — mostly to respond to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma — government disaster aid coffers are flush with cash. It’s a vastly different situation from last year, when Congress returned in September after Harvey spent five days battering Houston and surrounding areas.

A Hurricane, a Kavanaugh Vote and a Spending Package: Photos of the Week
The week of Sept. 10 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., takes a selfie on the House steps after casting his last vote of the week on Thursday afternoon. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

There was a watershed moment in Washington this week — three spending bills were cleared ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline and sent to the president’s desk for signature. That’s the first on-time delivery of a quarter of the annual appropriations measures in a decade.

Elsewhere in the Capitol, the Senate Judiciary panel set a final vote on the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, for Sept. 20, despite controversy. 

Rep. Clay Higgins Wants to Drug Test Congress
Lawmakers would be referred to Ethics Committee if they tested positive for drugs

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., a former sheriff’s department captain in Louisiana, has proposed legislation to drug test members of Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Clay Higgins has an idea for how to get Congress to clean up its act: random drug screenings.

“I have observed some behavior that would cause one to wonder,” the Louisiana Republican told the USA Today Network in an interview, apparently joking.

‘All Clear’ Following Capitol Police Investigation of Suspicious Vehicle
Workers heading home for the day routed away from blocked streets

An officer in a bomb suit sifts through luggage on Louisiana Ave. near the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Capitol Police and other law enforcement were investigating an incident in which a suspect abandoned a suspicious vehicle on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Roads around the Senate side of Capitol Hill and Union Station have been re-opened following an investigation of a suspicious vehicle Wednesday that included a police robot and a bomb suit. Capitol Police announced “all clear” nearly two and a half hours after the investigation began.

The road closures and guidance for staff to avoid the area came a little before 5 p.m. Senate staff and visitors were streaming out of office buildings towards Union Station and their parked cars before being detoured around the situation.

Need a Cave to Stash Your Oil? Feds Might Soon Have a Deal for You
House panel advances bill to rent out excess space of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

An underground cavern at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s Weeks Island storage site in Louisiana. (Courtesy Department of Energy)

A bill that would allow the federal government to rent out space in the caves holding the nation’s emergency oil stockpile moved out of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee last week with bipartisan support.

The legislation was advanced Thursday by the Energy Subcommittee in a voice vote and without any amendments. The bill would authorize the Energy Department to enter into lease agreements with private companies or foreign governments to store petroleum products in the excess space of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that will result from congressionally mandated drawdowns set to occur over the next decade.

Kavanaugh Witnesses Frame Upcoming Confirmation Debate
As Senate starts home stretch toward confirmation vote, divergent portrait painted

Jackson Corbin testifies about his reliance on affordable healthcare on the fourth day of Brett Kavanaugh's hearing before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building Friday Sept. 7, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

As the Senate continues its processing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it does so in the shadow of the last day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing, with strikingly different depictions of the appeals court judge on display.

Democrats brought a series of emotional witnesses to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday to sound more warnings about what Kavanaugh would mean for the country’s legal landscape, while witnesses invited by Republicans gave straightforward descriptions of an appeals court judge with the credentials to join the high court.

Kamala Harris, Brett Kavanaugh and ‘Racial Dog Whistles’
Potential 2020 presidential candidate found nominee’s answer ‘very troubling’

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., attends the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She has accused the nominee of using racial “dog whistles.” (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Kamala Harris, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said Friday she was not satisfied with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s answers this week when she asked him about his use of a term she dubbed a racial “dog whistle.”

During a Senate Judiciary confirmation session Friday with legal experts and other witnesses, the California Democrat returned to a line of questioning she had with the federal appellate judge on Wednesday. During the first full day of questioning Kavanaugh, she asked him to explain why he, in an op-ed, once used the term “racial spoils system.”