With U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy having taken a lead role in negotiating the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law Monday, we were already optimistic that the measure will help Louisiana meet many long-standing needs, from upgrading decaying roads, bridges and water systems and enhancing coastal resilience and flood controls to expanding rural broadband.
Sunday’s announcement that former Louisiana lieutenant governor and New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu will oversee the measure’s implementation makes it all the more likely that, despite opposition from Cassidy’s fellow Republicans in the congressional delegation, the state will fare well when the money is doled out and the projects get underway.
Landrieu brings a wealth of experience to his new role as Biden’s senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator, much of it on the receiving end of federal spending.
As lieutenant governor, he was deeply involved in lobbying for assistance after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he pushed to recast FEMA policies to put evolving local needs at the forefront.
As mayor, he fought to wrest recovery dollars from Washington to build community centers, libraries, police stations and streets. He also developed relationships and a sense of challenges facing leaders around the country in his role as chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. We expect Landrieu will apply all he’s learned in this important new role.
Critics will undoubtedly point to the weak job he did overseeing the Sewerage & Water Board, but supporters of the infrastructure bill will see the S&WB as an example of how poor communities need federal help to modernize. Biden actually highlighted the latter agency’s many woes when he toured the aging Carrollton water plant during a May visit to promote the bill.
With Landrieu at the helm and the president eager to show that the investment is money well spent, we can’t help but think that the S&WB would make a heck of a demonstration project.