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Louisiana Politics: Louisiana delegation members head back to nation's capital

The Independence Day recess is over for members of Congress, which means it is once again time for our federal legislators to start focusing on policy, particularly in the arena of health care access.

President Donald Trump’s proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act seemed to have some momentum in the House as spring gave way to summer, but it has since met resistance in the Senate.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a physician, has been giving interviews with reporters this week suggesting that the president’s original repeal plan may be officially stalled and that a thorough rewrite of the ACA, as being drafted by senators, is on uncertain ground as well.

Cassidy is the lead co-author of an alternative proposal, the Patient Freedom Act, which is a complicated piece of legislation that doesn’t go nearly as far as a complete dismantling of the ACA.

“We have been stressing the importance of making sure we have a replacement plan ready to go with the repeal of Obamacare, in order to ensure that no one sees a gap in their health care coverage,” he said.

Cassidy has also reintroduced the Medicaid Accountability and Care Act, or MAC Act, which is designed to “improve Medicaid financing through controlled spending, value-based incentives and fraud reduction.”

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, meanwhile, is waiting to see how the Senate version shapes up — and he was part of a successful effort to persuade Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the upcoming August recess so key votes can stop being postposed.

“We need to focus on passing meaningful reforms for health care and taxes,” Kennedy co-wrote in a letter to McConnell that was signed by him and other senators. “We don’t have time to go on vacation when there’s work that remains to be done for the American people. You wouldn’t put a cake in the oven and then leave to go on vacation before it has finished baking.”

As of Monday afternoon it was not known when the Senate might take up a vote on the health care overhaul law, but some lawmakers suspect it could happen over the next couple weeks.

PAR: Legislature not done
A month has not yet passed since the Legislature adjourned its special session in June and already there are advocacy and policy groups starting to worry about what comes next.

The Public Affairs Research Council is one such outfit, and it made as much clear recently in its report summarizing the legislative sessions of 2017.

“As busy as our elected officials have been, they have a lot work left to do and a lot of politically difficult decisions to make,” the report states.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom at the Capitol this year, of course, and PAR summarized that, among other things, a “solid budget is a welcome sight and has been a rarity lately.”

Yet a “great deal was left undone” in many others areas, including taxes. Gov. John Bel Edwards wanted lawmakers to address the temporary tax revenue — mostly in the form of an increase in the state sales tax structure — that expires in 2018.

But that didn’t happen. As a result, Edwards is expected to call another special session, which would be the fifth of this term, sometime in the fall or potentially early next year.

“Unfortunately, the Legislature still has a $1 billion-plus problem left to handle,” according to the PAR report. “The fiscal cliff is staring us in the face and the state will have to deal with it head-on.”

Political History:
Remembering Lindy Boggs
July 27 will mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Marie Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, known better to friends and family as Lindy Boggs.

Born on a plantation in New Roads, Boggs served in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1991. More importantly, no other woman has been elected from Louisiana to serve in the lower chamber since she retired.

Boggs was a uniquely Louisiana figure. In 1997 she went from spending time at her home on Bourbon Street to being appointed, by former President Bill Clinton, as the official U.S. ambassador to the Holy See — the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome. She held that position until 2001.

Boggs made her own way in a male-dominated Louisiana, starting out as a law partner to her husband, former U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs.

When her husband’s plane disappeared over Alaska, the remains never to be found, she ran successfully as a Democrat in the 2nd Congressional District and reclaimed the seat for the family. After that, her smallest showing at the polls was around 64 percent, but she usually garnered more than 80 percent of the vote.

Lindy Boggs was also the first woman to preside as a permanent chair over a national political convention, in the 1976 Democratic National Convention, which gave us the Carter-Mondale ticket,

She was the mother of four children, including TV journalist Cokie Roberts, the only surviving child; lobbyist Thomas Hale Boggs Jr.; former Princeton Mayor Barbara Boggs Sigmund; and William Robertson Boggs, who passed away as an infant.

They said it
“It’s like Christmas Eve, it’s five in the afternoon and you forgot to go shopping for your family of 10.”
—Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, explaining how the end of a legislative session works, on KATC-TV

“You can’t wait to appropriate.”
—Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, addressing the spending habits of legislators

For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter@LaPoliticsNow.

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