U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., announced the awarding of a $1.4 million competitive federal grant to elevate and improve the drainage of Theriot Road at Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish in order to make it more resistant to flooding.

The Economic Development Administration grant is part of a nearly $4 million overall project to improve the infrastructure of the port, which serves as a hub for much of the offshore oil-and-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates the flood protection project will create 320 new or temporary jobs and retain another 1,000 jobs.

“Port Fourchon is vital for offshore energy production, and this grant will help improve its safety and sustainability,” Vitter said in his announcement.

“Although we cannot control when and where storms hit, we can wisely invest in our infrastructure to make it more resilient and minimize the loss of economic activity after storms,” Landrieu said in a separate announcement. “Port Fourchon plays a critical role in powering this country’s economy, and today’s announcement is a smart investment in south Louisiana and the entire country’s economic and energy security.”

Landrieu’s announcement also said that Port Fourchon Executive Director Chett Chiasson thanked her for her efforts.

“This investment will improve the resiliency of our essential infrastructure at Port Fourchon, where we service nearly 90 percent of all deepwater rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico,” Chiasson said.

Richmond praises airport move

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, praised the Transportation Security Administration for announcing it would begin to expedite the airport screening process for wounded U.S. military members.

Richmond last month filed and co-sponsored “The Helping Heroes Fly Act” to require TSA to implement protocols to improve what he called the unnecessarily burdensome airport screening process for injured and disabled “heroes.”

Richmond also asked TSA Administrator John Pistole to include “wounded warriors” in the “PreCheck” airport screening program that applies to some frequent fliers and others.

“Expanding the PreCheck program will offer a measure of relief to our wounded warriors and ensure that they are treated with respect and dignity while traveling,” Richmond stated.

“Moving forward, I urge my colleagues in Congress to support The Helping Heroes Fly Act … to ensure that this policy will remain in place permanently.”

Vitter and Boustany criticize

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, both jumped on a Republican bandwagon this past week to criticize President Barack Obama for having a federal program that gives cell phones to low-income people.

There is a Federal Communications Commission Lifeline program, created nearly 30 years ago, that provides discounted phone service to people living in poverty. It was expanded under former President George W. Bush to include cell phones.

Vitter submitted a failed Senate amendment to end the program, and then Vitter sent out a fundraising email to criticize the “Obama phone bonanza” that he said gives free cell phones to welfare recipients.

Likewise, Boustany sent out a press release this week touting his co-sponsorship of the Stop Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act. Boustany complained that funding for the program has increased under Obama.

“The … Lifeline Program is a textbook example of a well-intentioned government program spiraling totally out of control,” Boustany stated.

Vitter to host town hall meeting

Vitter will host a town hall meeting on Thursday to meet with Iberville Parish constituents.

The town hall meeting is open to the public and will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Iberville Parish Council Chambers on Meriam Street in Plaquemine.

“Meeting with Louisianians and visiting communities across the state is one of the most-important parts of my job,” Vitter said in the announcement. “It allows me to hear about the issues most important to people in Louisiana. I’m looking forward to visiting with folks and discussing my efforts to bring Louisiana common sense to Washington, reform the culture of runaway federal spending and develop positive solutions to get our economy going again.”

Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email address is jblum@theadvocate.com.