GAMARD’S BELTWAY BEAT

Guns. That’s where we left off, and the dialogue has only grown angrier since our last issue. Congress returned to work yesterday to what some fear are the dying flames of a firearm debate, which flared and fizzled out once again after a school shooter in Parkland killed 17 people and injured several others earlier this month.

Some members braided potential solutions, from gun control to arming teachers, into town halls at home. Others have been restating their stance over and over on national television. If you were an American politician — or, for that matter, an American — it was a hard conversation to avoid. The question now isn’t just whether this latest shooting, which has made a particular dent on Capitol Hill, will make any federal changes. It’s also what’s going to happen eventually at the state level when legislatures go into session.

On the periphery of the Parkland aftermath was the so-called Schiff Memo (i.e., the Democrats’ rebuttal to the FBI-scathing Nunes Memo from a few weeks back), more FBI charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller (this time against President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former adviser Rick Gates) and SCOTUS orders temporarily preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Our delegates spent last week in recess, which critics have long said is misleadingly named. (Some went home to do some Louisiana politicking, others went far out of town.) Here’s some of what their not-so-rested breaks from Capitol Hill looked like:

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy was with fellow U.S. senators in Colombia to speak with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos about “eradicating the coca crop that is vital to the development of cocaine.” He also traveled to Puerto Rico to see the damage from Hurricane Maria.

— U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy has a new bill aiming to prevent opioid overprescription: “In Louisiana, there is about one opioid prescription for every person… Some doctors are selling these prescriptions for profit.”

— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has been talking guns, especially the armed deputy who didn’t confront the Parkland school shooter, on Fox & Friendsand Fox Business: “You just want to go strangle this guy. I mean, come on… The first thing that any of these victims need is prayer.” In other news, here’s Scalise’s op-ed arguing that offshore royalties are “essential” to the coast.

— Congressman Cedric Richmond has been celebrating Black History Month with daily historical snapshots on Twitter.

— Congressman Clay Higgins was in Morgan City with oil and gas leaders and in Lake Charles speaking to the Republican Women of SWLA about the new I-10 Calcasieu River bridge project and President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan. He threw out the first pitch at this weekend’s UL Ragin Cajuns game. Via Elizabeth Crisp’s Twitter: “He’s planning a ‘fundraiser motorcycle ride’ in May with former reality TV star and self- proclaimed bounty hunter Duane Chapman.”

— Congressman Mike Johnson held a few town halls in his district. Here’s a reel from his one in Bossier Parish, where he talked about arming “qualified teachers” and preventing children from being “sitting ducks” in schools.

— Congressman Ralph Abraham spent last week at the Avoyelles Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, at lunch with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and finally in St. Landry Parish before returning to D.C., where he gave a birthday shout-out to his Beltway barber, Joe Quattrone, on the floor.

— Congressman Garret Graves looks like he’s rooting for a Livingston Parish contestant to become the next American Idol. His Baton Rouge and D.C. offices are also accepting internship applications until the end of this month, and here’s a GIF of sorts that he made after speaking at the Dufrocq School Career Day last week...

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