Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, a candidate for U.S. Senate
Louisiana scored billions of dollars in a massive waterworks bill, but faces a daunting fight to pry the money out of a cash-strapped Congress.
One project alone, the $6.6 billion Morganza to the Gulf levee system, represents roughly half the projects authorized under the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRDA.
"I believe it will become real," said Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who is running against Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu.
While the WRDA bill authorizes projects, it stops short of actually funding them.
Cassidy acknowledged a tough fight remains to fund the project, but insisted fundamental changes are needed to free up dollars.
"It all relates back to how do we have a pro-growth economy," Cassidy said.
Invoking some of the themes of his campaign, Cassidy insisted the answer rests partly in tax reform, "where we have more tax dollars, not because tax rates are higher, but because people are making more money."
Speaking before the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Construction Management Association meeting in New Orleans, Cassidy also argued oil drilling on federal lands and in federal waters could provide Washington's share of Morganza and other water projects.
"Wouldn't that be great," Cassidy said, "because it would also create Louisiana jobs.
Over the last decade and largely because of hydraulic fracturing, U.S. oil production has soared about 70 percent, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
However, Cassidy argued the Obama administration remains hostile to oil and gas drilling on public lands.