Mike Johnson, LA-4, returned from Washington DC to tour his district and give local constituents an update on goings-on at The Hill.
“I haven’t been back in a while. When the President took office, he told us ‘This is going to be the busiest Congress in history,’ and he’s been right,” said Johnson.
As it relates to northwest Louisiana, he said he advocates for the military installations at every possible opportunity.
“We just gave the military its largest increase in spending in modern history. The Obama Administration scaled spending back to pre-WWII era. We’ve rectified that, now we need more stable longterm funding.”
Johnson notes that he and the other congressional delegation members constantly seek to obtain missions for Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Polk, and Camp Minden.
“This is about national security. We’re in a very dangerous world,” he said. “(Russian and China) are about to lap us on nuclear capability. Gen. Robin Rand, commander of USAF Global Strike Command, will tell us that if we want to be the top super power in the world, we have to give them the budget.”
Nationally, Johnson said there are several major issues he and his fellow representatives in Congress have to address, starting with healthcare reform.
“Premiums are rising, it’s a crisis,” he said starkly. “We failed on repeal and replace, despite our best efforts. But Congress has to get back to reform. We can’t walk away from it, it’s the biggest thing on our radar.”
He said they’re also focused on immigration reform, which Johnson has been heavily involved with.
He noted there is a bill with 190 co-sponsors that hasn’t been brought to the floor, with the Senate’s required 60-percent approval acting as a deterrent.
“Both parties are guilty of using that as an excuse,” Johnson admitted. “Let’s go to a majority vote. They call it ‘the nuclear option,’ but there’s nothing nuclear about it. Nothing is sacred.”
It gets back to what Johnson sees as the ultimate problem in Washington — partisanship.
“The House has been the most productive (it has been) in the modern era, but the vast majority of legislation has stalled in the Senate. It has frustrated the President. He’s sending troops to the (Mexico) border because the Senate is not doing their job.”
When it comes to the looming trade war with China, Johnson noted he and 107 other members of Congress signed a letter authored by Joint Economic Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) encouraging President Donald Trump to avoid raising tariffs.
“We begged (President Trump) not to get us in a trade war. There are unintended consequences for the American worker. It’s not just about steel and aluminum — we’re concerned about the agricultural industry, that’s huge for us,” Johnson said. “Is China doing some nefarious things? Absolutely, but we need to deal with that with a scalpel and not a sledgehammer.”
Despite his disagreement with Trump on tariffs, Johnson said he works closely with the White House and is “100 percent” a Trump supporter.
“Everyone gets frustrated with ‘The Swamp.’ A lot of lessons have been learned in the past year and a half. There’s a steep learning curve that extends to Congress and it has gradually gotten better.”
However, Johnson said he votes on what is best for the people he represents and what his constituents expect.
“I speak frankly,” Johnson said. “Trump’s administration called me two hours before the omnibus spending bill and I said, ‘I can’t vote for this and you shouldn’t sign it.’ If we can’t change how things are done with a Republican majority and White House, we’re never going to change it. There are certain core principles we can’t sacrifice.”