That person is Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves who this week, received the appointment to be the Chairman of House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
His role as head of the subcommittee is to translate the Trump Administration’s proposed infrastructure package into legislation in the coming years—particularly as it relates to bridges, flood protection, ports, waterways and coastal restoration.
Over the past decade, very few current lawmakers have had more experience in dealing with those issues as Graves has enjoyed. He handled those water infrastructure needs and played a top role in the state’s coastal master plan for the Jindal administration. Now, he is charged to help shape legislation to limit the scope and economic damages of agency regulations, short the time it takes for projects to be completed and bring efficiency to how the government works.
On Tuesday, I talked with Graves via a Facebook Live interview. We discussed his role in that position, his current discussions with the White House, Republican Party expectations and the critical needs Louisiana possesses, especially considering his new role.
In part one of the interview, Congressman Graves emphasized the resiliency of Louisiana and the overarching need to maintain that resiliency in a different way than we have done in the past. He said the focus upon resiliency could take place in how we manage the Mississippi River or building a levee in a particular location, “raising homes and businesses” to protecting us from floods. He stated the importance to have a resilient coast, economy, and ecosystem.
Graves already has already started to communicate with the Trump Administration. Top on the agenda is defining what infrastructure means. To many, infrastructure might mean roads and bridges which are critical. Graves is obviously aware of the many other infrastructure needs such as restoring the wetlands as part of infrastructure package that consists of constructing a bridge in Baton Rouge over the Mississippi River, improving the connection of Lafayette to New Orleans and enhancing Highway 1 in Lafourche Parish. Congressman Graves said that Louisiana has projects that have national significance.
However, he acknowledges that every Congressman and every state feels their projects are most critical to the nation. Thus, with limited dollars, he expects intense competition for every dollar.
Still, Congressman Graves makes a strong argument for Louisiana. He noted that there are few areas in the country that have as much national significance then Louisiana. He said that “we power the nation's economy with the energy that we produce”, we facilitate trade and commerce including that super highway--called the Mississippi River. Graves added that Louisiana is home to 5 out of the top 15 American ports, we are one of just two states with six Top Class railways. And, then, let us not forget that we help feed America with our world famous seafood.
The Baton Rouge Congressman said there's a “pent-up demand in investing in infrastructure projects” with “billions of dollars in projects” proposed by each state.
Given that scenario, no doubt, it is good that Louisiana has a Congressman, with such prior experience who can now help push the state’s national role, as we all rebuild America.
(Watch the video above)