‘LaPolitics’: A new appropriator from Louisiana

U.S. Rep. Julia Letlow, roughly 13 months on the job, turned heads this week by snagging the only open seat on the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. For those who have followed the Richland Parish politico’s brief trajectory closely, the move made perfect sense. Others were left asking one question: How? 

“Since day one, this has been my goal,” Letlow told LaPolitics this week. “We have so many challenges in this state, so many challenges in the district, and I knew Appropriations would be a way to address those challenges.” 

When Letlow made her staffing hires last year, she said applicants with experience in the budget process went to the top of the list. “We had a concerted effort to get that done, and to win a seat on that committee,” she added.

She was also able to lean on the influence of Louisiana’s House delegation. On the Steering Committee that made the assignment were not only Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Jefferson and GOP Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson of Shreveport, but also Letlow’s mentor, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves of Baton Rouge. “That really was the deciding factor,” Letlow said. As an appropriator, Letlow says she would prioritize education and rural broadband, but acknowledged agriculture will be among the most important policy areas for her. Prior to this week, Letlow was a member of the House Agriculture Committee, an important seat for her rural district. But the Appropriations gig doesn’t allow for other committee work. To that end, Letlow has been assigned to the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration. 

“That’s the backbone of the 5th District,” she says. Louisiana also has representation on the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is a member.

They said it: “I hate it when you put up that ‘Do Nothing’ map because everyone in Slidell puts their house up for sale.” –State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, on a Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority map that displays the consequences of doing no restoration or protection work in the coming years, during committee debate this week. 

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.