With the partial shutdown of the federal government now entering its third week, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy says he’s following the lead of President Donald Trump. “The issue is: do we secure our southern border or not,” Cassidy tells LaPolitics. “The president, and I agree with him, feels as if that is what is necessary to keep Americans safer and more secure.” Louisiana’s senior senator says any resolution to end the shutdown would have to emerge from the lower chamber of Congress, which Democrats seized control of this term. “It is really going to depend upon the politics in the House of Representatives,” he said. “If (U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi decides that she can’t because of her internal House politics, it is going to be longer.” While Cassidy labels Democrats as unwilling partners during the shutdown negotiations around the shutdown, he adds that Trump’s approach could change minds. “Democrats tend to believe in bigger government, so I think the president’s calculus is that they are going to want the government open and they are going to be willing to give a little bit,” he said. The senator says he has seen the effects of the shutdown firsthand, particularly in the area of flood relief.
—Qualifying kicked off this week for seven seats in the state House of Representatives, a notable turnover as legislators begin the final year of the term. The vacancies occurred when sitting representatives were elected to different jobs on last fall’s ballot or, in one case, appointed to another government position. The primary elections are scheduled for Feb. 23 in House District 12 in the Ruston area, which was vacated by former Rep. Rob Shadoin; House District 47 in the Cameron-Vermilion region, which was vacated by Sen. Bob Hensgens; House District 18 in Pointe Coupee Parish, which was vacated by Parish President Major Thibaut; House District 26 in the Alexandria area, which was vacated by Mayor Jeff Hall; House District 27 in Rapides Parish, which was vacated by Judge Chris Hazel; House District 62 in the St. Francisville area, which was vacated by Parish President Kenny Havard; and House District 17 in the Monroe area, which was vacated by Judge Marcus Hunter. The next regular session the Legislature convenes April 8, and runoffs, as needed, are slated for March 30. That means any candidates forced into the second round of balloting will have to hit the ground running if elected.
They said it: “I prefer to think she was over-caffeinated and made a mistake.” —U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, via a press release, regarding a colleague’s profane remarks about President Donald Trump
They said it, lagniappe edition: “I’ll be detailing my daily anxiety about the Bollards at the Capitol here on Twitter.” —Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Deputy Chief of Staff Christina Stephens about her new job, via Twitter
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.