La. Politics: Congressman continues water policy focus
If you’re from Louisiana and you have a federal issue regarding water — whether it be the stuff you drink, the stuff that stinks, the stuff that flooded your living room or the stuff that’s eating Louisiana alive — then you need to slate a visit with third-term Congressman Garret Graves.
He engineered many of Louisiana’s modern coastal restoration and protection laws, and, as a staffer, had a hand in gradating federal recovery policy that was geared specifically to our state.
“Stepping in and finding opportunities to use technology and take lessons learned, both good and bad from experiences we have had, are absolutely niche areas where we are spending a lot of time,” Graves told LaPolitics in an interview.
The House passed the CASES Act recently, which is a bill Graves co-sponsored with Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts. The measure allows congressional offices to handle constituent casework with an electronic approval, rather than requiring written authorization. For Graves, the bill was a logical solution to a frustrating problem that came to his attention during the floods.
“We had people who were on the phone calling us in four feet of water and we had to tell them to go to their computers and print out a piece of paper,” Graves told LaPolitics. “You can imagine the candid feedback we were getting.”
Citing experiences with the Shelter-at-Home program, Graves also filed disaster relief legislation last month to make long-term disaster recovery money “predictable and available within weeks of a disaster,” rather than months or years. “This bill starts to fix the slow, unnecessary federal processes that often serves to re-victimize people and jeopardize recovery for entire communities.”
He added, “Bottom line is that we need to get recovery funds into the hands of disaster victims as soon as possible. Spending hundreds of millions on temporary housing while waiting on long-term funding is a waste of taxpayer dollars and delays recovery of our communities. The current system is a proven failure.”
Graves’ casework bill, after passing the House, is now pending action before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Committee. His disaster recovery bill is awaiting its first hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, on which Graves serves as a member.