BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana’s senators are working to put pressure on the federal government to provide more aid to the state after Hurricane Ida. For both Sen. Bill Cassidy and Sen. John Kennedy, the main focus right now is to get additional relief dollars to the state to get people back in their homes and infrastructure fixed.
But for long-term plans, that is where they differ.
Additional relief aid for both southwest and southeast Louisiana is already in the works. The entire Louisiana delegation has signed on to additional aid following Ida and President Joe Biden said he would support it. It would total $10 billion for Louisiana and additional dollars to the other states impacted by the hurricane.
“Now we will get the money for SWLA in the near future and it will actually end up being more. Under President Trump’s administration it was going to be around 500M but now we’ve been able to increase that we think close to 900M or even more,” Sen. Cassidy said.
Sen. Kennedy authored a bill that would extend the national flood insurance program that expires at the end of the month and Sen. Cassidy has supported it as well. Kennedy said that is expected to pass next week and the next battle will be keeping the cost of insurance down.
“The longer term problem with flood insurance is they’re going to raise our premiums. FEMA is in charge of the rates. They call it risk rating 2.0. In Louisiana we call it a rate increase and I’m fighting them on that,” Kennedy said.
Cassidy said his bipartisan infrastructure bill would benefit the state in future storms from coastal protections to hardening the electrical grid. He said it is more important than ever. One issue he is working on at the state and local levels is finding housing for people displaced from the storm.
“We have to have affordable housing that is built to hurricane code in the places where people live and work,” Cassidy said.
Kennedy wants to put the main focus on getting funding to the individual so they can rebuild their homes quicker.
“I don’t want to give the government more money to build housing. Most of my people have houses. They were damaged, they need to get back to their original houses and what I’m working on is money to people,” Kennedy said.
As for hardening the grid, he believes it would be too expensive to have underground power lines and Louisianans shouldn’t have to foot the bill.
Kennedy voted against the bipartisan bill saying there is too much in it that is not true infrastructure. He said this about both the $3.5 trillion bill by democrats and the $1.5 trillion bipartisan bill. Cassidy said only Congressman Troy Carter has come out in support of the bill. It waits in the House of Representatives for a final vote before going to the President’s desk if passed.
Despite their differences, Kennedy and Cassidy agree Louisiana will be able to come back stronger and better prepared for the next storm.