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U.S. Rep. Garret Graves blasts committee leadership

Staff Report

U.S. District 6 Congressman Garret Graves last week lashed out at the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership that shot down a major project for the Greater Baton Rouge area, blocked changes to a $96 billion COVID-19 relief bill intended for transportation, FEMA and industries impacted by the pandemic, such as transit, aviation, and passenger rail service. 

U.S. District 6 Congressman Garret Graves

The bill also eliminated an item on the wish list for Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes, Graves said.

“Democrats shot down our efforts to fund a new bridge crossing the Mississippi River, assistance to our law enforcement officers affected by the 2020 hurricanes, recovering Louisiana from the 2020 disasters, a Duplication of Benefits fix, assistance for our ports, eliminating different flood standards by FEMA and the RESTORE program, and others,” he said. “This bill completely leaves out major sectors of needed relief and ignored bipartisan solutions to the challenges that COVID-19 poses.

The legislation is expected to become part of a larger COVID-19 relief package, based on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your politics are – the pandemic impacts all of us,” said Graves, R-Baton Rouge. “This sham process is an attempt by three people to spend $1.9 trillion of deficit spending without any input from the rest of Congress representing the American people. Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and President Biden wrote a bill, and they are saying that no one else can change it.

“This is crazy,” he said. “It’s like Monopoly money to them. Why is anyone else even in government if this is how they are going to run things? Literally, hundreds of amendments representing millions of Americans’ priorities were ignored.”

“We are three weeks into President Biden’s unity tour, and I am yet to find an instance where he has practiced what he has preached,” Graves said. "Our amendments addressed glaring oversights in the Biden plan by introducing countless amendments that support our maritime industry and airports, as well as amendments that would improve disaster response during the pandemic or enhance future COVID-safe evacuations.”

Graves said every one of his amendments were shot down.

“On top of this shameful committee process, there is serious question that the funding in this bill, such as the $30 billion set aside for bus and transit systems – a total $69 billion, are even needed, with billions of aid from previous packages still available for these needs. Congress has passed multiple bipartisan support packages for COVID, including one that became law just a few weeks ago, and this effort should be no different. We need to slow down, think through what’s best for the American people, and target the relief to those that need it the most without throwing more cash out the car window.”