Gamard’s Beltway Beat: Another Shutdown?

It’s a good thing our congressional delegation got their Carnival fill at the 65th Parish a couple of weeks ago, because pending votes on the Hill could make the rest of this month a little less relaxing. Not unlike our statehouse at home, U.S. lawmakers have struggled to agree on a federal budget. Congress has until Thursday at midnight to make a deal to avoid another shutdown like last month’s.

House GOP members were hoping to vote soon (maybe late this afternoon) to fund the military long-term, while keeping the government open until March 23. Immigration, a longstanding talking point for the majority of our delegates, remains the focus of contention. Bills are on the table and lawmakers are still negotiating.

House Republicans reportedly met last night to talk about avoiding a shutdown — the same topic they discussed last week at the multi-day GOP retreat with U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in West Virginia. Senators stayed until Thursday and Congressmen until Friday. This work week will be a short one as well, since Democrats leave for their own retreat starts tomorrow.

At least on the surface, our delegates don’t look anxious. Between the relatively pacified State of the Union speech and the release of the Nunes Memo alleging malfeasance within the FBI as it investigates U.S. President Donald Trump’s ties with Russia, it’s been a relatively good week for our members in the GOP. Five-sixths of our delegates are focusing on touting those two blessings, along with the fruits of the GOP tax bill, as much as they can.

Here’s what else they’ve been up to:

—— U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy signed a letter with U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and the majority of the Senate asking their leaders to reauthorize funding for community health centers. The senator made national headlines on Wednesday for being on the train that crashed into a truck on the way to the GOP retreat. Cassidy and his wife, Laura, were two of the saving-grace physicians at the scene who tended to victims before EMTs arrived. Here’s his account on Fox & Friends.

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s latest quote is in: “It’s pretty simple: Don’t pay dead people.” That’s the philosophy behind his new legislation, the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act. He also says he’s got a funding plan to finish the Comite River Diversion Canal. Last but not least, there could be a new hashtag from Hill reporters on the horizon: #Kennedyism. ‘Bout time.

— Congressman Steve Scalise has been aggressively circulating headlines and press releases about GOP tax bill benefits on Twitter and his Majority Whip website.

— Congressman Cedric Richmond will be in Maryland tomorrow for the annual House Democratic retreat, where members hear from former Vice PresidentJoe Biden. The Congressional Black Caucus Chairman used the arrival of Black History Month to explain why some caucus members did not attendPresident Trump’s State of the Union.

— Congressman Clay Higgins wants constituents to know about the employee bonuses at a Lafayette IBERIABANK.

— Congressman Mike Johnson went on Fox Business yesterday to talk about the Nunes Memo and why the Democratic Party’s counter-memo should be publicized. He also commented on the U.S. Department of Defense’s newly released Nuclear Posture Review: “I have long been an advocate for taking smart steps to adequately improve our nuclear arsenal, knowing that we must promote peace through strength.”

— Congressman Ralph Abraham spent his Saturday at a pro-life march in Alexandria. He was tracking the Groundhog Day forecast on Friday via Pierre C. Shadeaux, Cajun Country’s clairvoyant critter. It looks like Abraham is also supporting an obscure documentary that follows a young Louisianian as he meets his birth parents for the first time.

— Congressman Garret Graves checked in with his latest Facebook Live on Friday, after a come-together moment on Twitter regarding the Nunes Memo. He was the only other Louisiana delegate with U.S. Sen. Cassidy aboard the Wednesday train crash.

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