WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Governor’s entourage still bidding on Capitol Hill, looking for a package that will help victims still struggling from the August flood. Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA), joined with Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain in DC, hoping to convince lawmakers in power to lend a hand, and to do so soon.
"We have to get money into the communities," said Strain. "We have to rebuild that infrastructure. We have to work with our farmers."
Strain in Washington saying what Louisianans are thinking: "We need money, and we need it fast."
He says the agriculture industry has taken a massive hit, over $360 million in damage, half of which was uninsured.
"It’s about the economy when we bring money back home to rebuild the agriculture infrastructure," said Strain. "We have to get those farmers back in business. We have to make sure that they can re-plant and move forward."
Strain says the storm struck right in the middle of harvest. Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) says having Strain and the rest of the delegation on the same page is important as state leaders push for funding.
"We’re trying not to let anybody add things onto it that may be extraneous, may be involved in other states that have nothing to do with flood relief in Louisiana," said Fleming.
The number Governor John Bel Edwards is hoping for is $2.6 billion tacked onto an overall spending bill. Edwards and the delegation are optimistic this will pass soon. Their main concern is the delay over other packages like the Zika funding bill.
"We feel very good that the people in Congress understand that this was a very significant, historic flood event," said Governor Edwards.
Edwards wanted $2.8 billion. He says $2.6 billion is just fine, but it needs to come as soon as possible.
"We’re pushing for as much now as possible because we have homeowners and businesses that are making decisions right now about their future," said Edwards. "And we want them to make the viable decision to stay in their homes and reopen their businesses, and we know that we need substantial assistance."
The Governor says the bipartisan delegation gives them a good chance for immediate success. He met with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Wednesday. He plans to meet with House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) on Thursday.