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Don’t Doubt the Clout

Louisiana, which seems to be at the top of every bad list and at the bottom of every good list, is doing quite well when it comes to its clout in Congress.

Every session of Congress, Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, ranks the states in what it calls its “Clout Index.”    Consideration is given to the number of  lawmakers each state has, their seniority, assignments to leadership positions, and their positions on powerful committees.

A Fax-Net Exclusive: Believe it or not, Roll Call, for the current 113th Congress, ranks Louisiana at No. 4 on the Clout Index.

“The Louisiana story is more illustrative of how a relatively small state can throw considerable weight around the Capitol if the delegation plays the internal politics right,” Roll Call said.

Keep in mind that the Clout Index was compiled before Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu became chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, who represents the state’s 1st District, became Majority Whip.

If both of them are around for the 114th Congress, it would not be surprising to see Louisiana ranked at No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation on the Roll Call Clout Index.  That surely would be a history-making, monumental achievement.

Before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s see how little Louisiana was able to surpass all those big states on the Clout Index. Here’s what Roll Call had to say:

“Approaching the end of her third term, Democratic Sen. Marty Landrieu has claimed the gavel of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and her Senate colleague David Vitter, after less than two terms, is the top Republican on Environment and Public Works.

“Having a lopsidedly Republican delegation in the GOP House has helped four of the state’s six congressmen secure seats on the most influential committees, the ones that have the most to do with helping the state’s oil and gas economy: Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce.

“It’s little surprise the delegation has entered the ranks of those with the most built-in clout.  For Landrieu especially, who’s in line to claim the Energy and Natural Resources chairmanship, it will be no surprise when these lawmakers run in 2014 with the pitch that an anti-incumbent mood is not in the voters’ enlightened self-interest.”

And so it came to pass that Landrieu did claim the chairmanship of the Energy Committee.  What was unexpected is the meteoric rise of Scalise to become the third most powerful Republican in the U.S. House as Majority Whip.

With only six years of seniority, Scalise captured the coveted post, which makes him the most powerful Louisiana Republican in the House in the history of the body.  Democrat Hale Boggs of New Orleans was Majority Leader in the early 1970s.

But the bottom line is this: If Landrieu is defeated this year, the Pelican State’s clout will be significantly diminished when Roll Call’s Clout Index for the 114th Congress is compiled.  And if Vitter leaves to become governor in 2016, that would be another big hit.

Political Tidbits

Honoring Col. dePyssler – A “Thank You and Happy Birthday” celebration will be held in honor of Col. Steve dePyssler at Barksdale AFB on Saturday July 19.

Col. dePyssler will be 95 years old.  For 36 years, he has been a volunteer at the base and for 26 years has been the Director of the Retiree Activities Office.

The event will be held at Barksdale Club (Old Officer Club) beginning with a social at 5:30 p.m.  The program will be at 6:30 p.m. with Bossier City Mayor (and retired Colonel) Lo Walker as the MC. A buffet dinner will be available.  Cost is $18 per person.  Reservations must be made by July 12.

For more information, call retired Lt. Col. George Finck at 965-4142 or e-mail gFinckSr@gmail.com or e-mail RAO@Barksdale.AF.mil.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.

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