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Gov. John Bel Edwards discusses transportation needs/solutions during a meeting of American Council of Engineering Companies and others in Baton Rouge, La., Friday Feb. 17, 2017.


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards had a seat at the table with President Donald Trump — literally — when the nation's governors met with the president on Monday.

Edwards was one of two Democratic governors asked to sit at Trump's table when the president met with the National Governor's Association at the White House. Two Republican governors also were invited to sit at the president's table, according to the governor's office.

Trump told the governors during the NGA meeting that they would have more authority during his administration.

"We're going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from states — great people and great governors," Trump said in his opening remarks to the group. "We have to let the states compete and see who has the best solutions."

The governors held a question-and-answer session with Trump that was closed to the press. Edwards' administration said that the governor did not ask a question during that portion of the meeting.

NGA's annual winter meeting typically includes a meeting with the president.

The rest of the governors during Monday's event were seated about six governors each at large round tables in the ballroom, with a few Cabinet members interspersed among them.

"The governors are going to have a lot more decision-making ability than they have right now," Trump said. "We have a lot of talent and a lot of expertise here."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, during his regular press briefing, also stressed the administration's reliance on input from governors.

"The dialogue that exists between this president and governors is a refreshing step moving forward," he said.

Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, also hosted the governors and first ladies at a Sunday evening reception.

One of the key missions of Edwards' D.C. trip is lobbying for more federal aid for the state's recovery from last year's historic floods. On Tuesday, he's scheduled to meet with House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, to discuss flood relief as his as committee prepares Congress' next spending plan.

Edwards met with Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to discuss the state’s unmet needs Monday afternoon. U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, also took part in the meeting.

Aside from the flood aid, Edwards also has been advocating for the future of Medicaid expansion if the federal Affordable Care Act is repealed. He met with Health Secretary Tom Price on Sunday.

"We have had some positive meetings with the new administration on a range of topics -- from Medicaid Expansion to flood recovery," Edwards said Monday. "We have clearly outlined to the President and his administration why Louisiana should receive additional assistance. Director Mulvaney is no stranger to severe weather, especially when it comes to areas that don't typically flood. He and I have committed to work together in the coming months to address the flood and infrastructure needs of our state."

Louisiana has secured nearly $1.7 billion from the federal government to assist the rebuilding from floods that swept south Louisiana in August and north Louisiana last spring. Edwards has asked for $2 billion more to continue the recovery efforts.

Shortly after the August floods, then-candidate Trump and his running mate Mike Pence traveled to hard-hit suburbs of Baton Rogue, viewing water-swept communities and visiting with volunteers and local leaders.

His then opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, said she would also visit the flood-affected areas but never did.

In December, after winning the election, Trump returned to Baton Rouge for a Republican rally in honor of U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy. Kennedy went on to win the December runoff.

Ahead of that rally, Edwards briefly met with Trump at the airport to discuss the flood recovery.

Edwards, in a letter to Trump earlier this month, detailed the state's additional needs, including programs to help homeowners rebuild and those that would assist businesses affected by the floods. He asked that Trump make a formal request of Congress to provide additional assistance. Congress typically won't fund beyond what the president recommends.

Also in the letter, Edwards provided a list of recommendations for how the federal government deals with natural disasters.

"Any help that your administration can provide in helping to make these immediate and lasting differences, not only for Louisiana citizens but for every American upon whom a natural disaster visits such devastation, would be greatly appreciated," Edwards wrote.

The federal government is currently operating under a stopgap budget that runs out in April.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.