U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, found himself on the other side of the dais last week in a hearing witness chair.

Boustany went before a House subcommittee on water resources and environment to push his legislation that would loosen federal maritime funds for dredging.

Boustany has obtained 100 co-sponsors for the Realize America’s Maritime Promise to direct money in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for dredging.

The money is collected through a tax on maritime companies that amounts to about $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion a year.

Boustany has pointed to a $5.6 billion surplus in the fund as evidence that it is not being used for its purpose. Boustany has noted that one-fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product depends on maintaining harbors and navigational channels to provide access to cargo vessels.

Boustany called the appearance before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s panel a significant step in the adoption of his bill.

“This is a sign that this bill is going to move and it’s great for Louisiana,” Boustany said. “It fixes a problem that has been in existence for quite awhile that both sides of the aisle see as needing fixing.”

White House interns

Three Louisiana college students were among 147 who were chosen by The White House to participate in the summer internship program.

The program’s mission is to make the White House accessible to future leaders around the nation and cultivate and prepare those interested in public service for leadership opportunities.

Interns work in one of several White House departments ranging from the Office of Cabinet Affairs to the Office of the Vice President.

Sam Harbourt, a Baton Rouge native who attends Harvard Law School, will participate as will Elizabeth Kelly, of Mandeville. Kelly attends Yale Law School. Jacques Landrieu, of New Orleans, and a student at Vanderbilt University also will be involved in the program.

Additional information about the White House Internship Program is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/internships. The application for the spring 2012 program is now on the website. The deadline is Sept. 11.

Fleming applauds query

Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, applauded the House Judiciary Committee for sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last week demanding specific answers on Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s involvement with the Obama administration’s health-care law when she was solicitor general.

The committee acted after receiving a letter from Fleming signed by 48 colleagues. Fleming wants the administration to explain Kagan’s involvement in crafting a legal defense of the law.

“The committee’s request to the Department of Justice is an important first step towards ensuring that the American people know the truth,” Fleming said.

The health-care law has been challenged as unconstitutional by states that contend the federal government cannot mandate that citizens participate in the health-care law. Courts have decided in favor and against states in a matter that is expected to be resolved at the Supreme Court.

“I am confident that this investigation will uncover even more evidence that Justice Kagan was involved in Obamacare defense activities,” Fleming said. “How can any reasonable person believe that Justice Kagan can be impartial on any Obamacare case if she was involved in formulating a defense of this destructive law?”

Southern grant

Southern University will receive $452,500 under a federal program to provide academic, career and financial counseling to low-income students and encourage them to graduate from high school and continue on to complete a college education.

The TRIO Talent Search Program will provide $4 million grants to nine university campuses in Louisiana. The award was announced by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La..

“All children deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams and receive a high quality education, no matter their socio-economic background,” Landrieu said in a statement.

Compiled by Gerard Shields, chief of The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau. His email address is GerardShields@aol.com.