On big national issues and more localized ones, Louisiana’s two senators tend to march in lockstep. That’s not a big surprise. Both are Republicans, and Washington’s a party line sort of place these days.
But not always. A couple of big late-term congressional fights have exposed something of a philosophical divide between Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy.
Cassidy voted for the major farm bill that just passed the Senate this week, and released a statement noting the broad benefits for Louisiana agriculture and beyond.
“This legislation empowers Louisiana farmers and sugar producers to succeed,” Cassidy said. “The bill’s investments in telemedicine and rural community treatment facilities help improve health outcomes for Louisianans and fight opioid addiction. And it also includes my provision creating a grant program that creates jobs in rural communities, increases opportunity and boosts local economies.”
Kennedy was a “no,” and cited a single complaint – that a conservative effort to clamp down on food stamp recipients didn’t have enough support to make it into the final bill.
WASHINGTON — A battle’s brewing in the U.S. Senate over a bipartisan package of criminal justice reforms, and Louisiana’s senators have wound …
“Too much of this bill is devoted to irresponsible food stamp distribution that fails to help people realize the dignity of work,” he said in a statement. “I could not support this bill because it does not contain stronger work requirements for food stamps.”
The two are also on opposite sides on the bipartisan prison reform bill that is expected to soon get a Senate vote.
Again, Cassidy’s a “yes.”
“I agree with President Trump. This reform makes society safer. Equipping non-violent and low-risk parolees to re-enter society, get a job and stay out of trouble can break the cycle of recidivism and crime. This also saves taxpayers money. Keeping geriatric inmates with Alzheimer’s under guard is a waste of prison beds,” he said in announcing his support.
Not so Kennedy, who was one of the few major officials to oppose a similar effort in Louisiana last year. Despite widespread support among his fellow Republicans, Kennedy has trashed the Louisiana reforms as an “unqualified disaster” and called them a cautionary tale for Congress.
So what do Louisiana voters thinks of the two approaches? We’ll have to wait to see.
Kennedy took a pass on running against Gov. John Bel Edwards, a strong backer of criminal justice reform, so voters won’t get to weigh in on his distinctly unforgiving approach any time soon. Cassidy’s more conciliatory views will on the ballot in 2020, when he presumably runs for a second term.