Rep. Landry talks about the workings of U.S. Congress

U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, (District 3, R-New Iberia) shared a glimpse of the workings of Congress with Franklin Rotarians Tuesday.

The congressman is in his second and final year of his first term and has announced he will be seeking re-election on the Nov. 6 primary ballot.

But due to the loss of a congressional seat following redistricting last year, he faces an unusual situation; there will be two incumbents vying for the same seat — Landry and District 7 Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette).

Landry opened with a rhetorical question on if the Democratically controlled Congress and White House administration had accomplished anything this past term to solve the nation’s problems.

“What about before Nancy Pelosi took over the speakership and Harry Reid took over the majority leadership of the Senate and Barack Obama became president, Republicans enjoyed the same control as did the Democrats,” he said. “Did they do anything to solve our problems?

“The problem is that we have given both of these parties opportunities to solve our problems and yet nothing has been accomplished,” Landry said. “We have too many people playing politics in Washington rather than solving the problems. They fight more about the checkbook than over what’s good for the American people.”

He said he started his freshman year in Congress along with 87 other first-termers.

Beating out a long-term incumbent, Hunt Downer, in the 2010 election Landry said he promised to decline Congressional healthcare and retirement benefits.

“And we did that the first week in office,” he said. “The healthcare was easy, the retirement took us a couple of weeks. I had to utilize my legal skills and help the House draft some very special paper work to decline my retirement because they fought like all hell to do it.”

He added that more than 15 members of Congress have since declined some or all of their benefits and are working together on a bill that would eliminate Congressional pensions.

“The reason for that is this,” he said. “For 15 years or more we’ve been knowing that Social Security needed to be fixed. It needs to be fixed today, and those people have not solved it. But they tell us that they’re going to solve it … and yet time and time again we send them there and they don’t do it.”

He said he would bet that if members of Congress had to rely on Social Security like many Americans, the solution would be found.

Moving on to his support of the oil and gas energy, Landry said he has been “the loudest voice in putting the Gulf back to work.” and pointed to his message he delivered during an Obama speech on jobs by holding up a sign that read, “Drilling = Jobs.”

“We built an annual $14 trillion economy on the back of affordable energy,” he said. He added that as a former owner of an oil and gas small business he felt it was his “duty to lead the fight for drilling.”

He said he feels those efforts are paying off.

He also noted that he scored a 100 with the Family Resource Council on family values.

“I said I’d fight for a balanced budget amendment,” he said.

When Congress was asked by the administration last year to raise the debt to a historical amount, Landry said he was against it.

He related a story about how he refused to be bullied into voting for the “imperfect bill” crafted by the speaker of the house.

The bill “did a lot of Washington magic, I call it voodoo politics. … and about 15 or 16 of us said ‘We’re not voting for it.’”

He said he was at first pressured by an unnamed senior congressman and then along with the group by the speaker of the house, John Boehner, who asked them all what favors they wanted in return for their votes.

“I was so proud because of all the people in that room, nobody asked for a project, or a dollar amount of a job or a committee assignment or a chairmanship,” Landry said. Instead they asked for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution to put before the people.

“He didn’t like that but in the end he gave it to us,” he said. The debt ceiling bill was passed by the House but returned by the Senate with the balanced budget amendment stripped out.

“When it came back that way I said no,” he said. “The problem is the process. When it is their problem, when they live it, they can solve it. When they don’t live it, when they don’t have to play by the rules, they don’t solve it.”

He added that he would continue to be committed to do whatever it takes to pass a balanced budget amendment.

He concluded by saying that the voters of Louisiana should demand of whom they elect to solve the nation’s problems.

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