Op eds

This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in Houma Today on March 28, 2019.   

Our fishermen and shrimpers are hurting despite producing the best seafood in the world.  We’re going to increase inspections on foreign seafood to catch the inferior, contaminated products that threaten to put Louisiana seafood producers out of business.

The National Finance Center in New Orleans was considering moving after a tornado devastated its facility.  We’re keeping it right where it is and retaining 1,000 Louisiana jobs.

The U.S. faces a huge gap in the number of workers needed to catch child pornographers and scam artists.  We’re going to make millions of dollars available for cybersecurity education programs such as the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.

With the help of the Orion spacecraft, we hope to return to the Moon and eventually reach Mars.   We’re building major parts of that spacecraft in Louisiana. 

An appropriations bill isn’t a terribly exciting read, especially when it’s 1,165 pages long.  I know; I sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee.  But the recently passed comprehensive funding bill contained a lot of wins for Louisiana.  I’m not talking about pork projects.  You can’t fry these up and serve them with eggs and toast.  I’m talking about jobs.  More specifically, I’m talking about Louisiana jobs.

Take the Louisiana seafood industry.  Last year, I met with hundreds of shrimpers who told me they’re struggling to compete with imported seafood that drives down the cost of their product.  The prices have gotten so low that you’d think it was the 1980s if the cost of living weren’t so high.  As one shrimper put it, he can’t make it on cents.  He needs dollars.

I believe in free trade, but trade can’t be free if it’s not fair.  Foreign seafood is full of antibiotics.  It’s subsidized by foreign governments.  And it’s reaching U.S. tables and undercutting the market because we can’t inspect enough of it and filter out the cheaters.

The appropriations bill includes my amendment to increase imported seafood inspections by 26%.  That’s a huge win for Louisiana.

Take the National Finance Center, which processes payroll for thousands of federal workers.   It’s located at Michoud Assembly Facility, which got hit by a tornado in 2017. 

The appropriations bill ensures that center stays in New Orleans East.  Families won’t have to relocate.  That’s a huge win for Louisiana.

Take the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.  It’s working to help fill a looming void of 1.5 million workers needed to fight cybersecurity threats like child pornography and theft.

The appropriations bill ensures that $18.6 million will be spent on cybersecurity education and training.  That’s a huge win for Louisiana.

By huge wins, I mean jobs.  We have families in Louisiana who have shrimped and fished for generations.  They want to shrimp and fish for generations more.  We have people in Louisiana who are working on the Orion Spacecraft to open new frontiers in space exploration and make America more secure.  Those jobs are helping the U.S. reach the Moon and Mars.

Louisiana got more than cents in the appropriations bill.  We got dollars that will retain jobs and create jobs.  And that’s a huge win.