Since taking office May 6, new 6th District U.S. Rep. Don Cazayoux, D-New Roads, said that he has not sat idle on Capitol Hill.
The freshman Congressman said Thursday that while he has been getting his feet wet in Washington, he has also been actively working to find ways to bring the rising costs of both fuel and food down in the midst of what many believe is an economic recession.
“Although Louisiana is maybe not feeling as hard of a hit economically as the rest of the country, it’s still affecting us here tremendously,” Cazayoux said in an interview with The Gonzales Weekly Citizen Thursday. “We’re not seeing some of the housing market problems as other parts of the country, but things like gas prices and food prices are causing us to struggle.”
Cazayoux won election in May to fill the unexpired term of 21-year Republican incumbent Rep. Richard Baker. Baker resigned his position late last year to take a position with a hedge fund corporation.
Prior to taking office, Cazayoux served for eight years in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
The 6th Congressional District includes the northern area of Ascension Parish as well as much of the metro Baton Rouge area.
Cazayoux also intends to run in November for a full term in Congress.
Throughout his campaign, Cazayoux said, many people told him their main concern was health care. While the issue is still a priory for Cazayoux, he said that much of the focus of his constituents has shifted to the rising costs of fuel and food.
“We’re working to find way to lower fuel prices, including actively looking at alternative fuel sources,” Cazayoux said. “I think we need a more comprehensive energy program. We also need to increase supply, whether that means increasing refinery capacity or whether or not drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a possibility.”
Cazayoux said that while many of his fellow Democrats have opposed drilling, he supports the idea.
“We need to get more of our oil here in America,”?he said “We still have 25 percent of our nation’s oil imported from other countries. We’re at their mercy when it comes to the price of their oil.”
Cazayoux also responded to claims by a political action group over his votes against recent legislation to enact the drilling process.
“I didn’t vote for those because they included wording that dealt with other issues,” Cazayoux said. “I didn’t feel the wording in those bills was appropriate, so I didn’t vote for them. They weren’t designed to affect policy. All those bills would have done is actually slow down the process.”
Cazayoux said that Congress will continue to discuss the issue until a more favorable bill with the smallest possible environmental footprint comes before the lawmakers.
Page 2 of 2 - Concerning health care, Cazayoux said he has been supportive of the LaCHIP child health insurance program in Louisiana, as well as expanding the child health insurance nationally.
“To me, we ought to be able to insure our children both here in Louisiana and in our nation,” he said. “That has a lot of ramifications. Not only does it help the children but it also helps society in general. A child can’t be educated if they’re continuously sick. Plus, it affects the health care industry in general. It allows children to avoid costly emergency room visits and the opportunity to visit a doctor. That saves the system money, which saves us all money.”
Cazayoux also serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which recently worked a new G.I. Bill through Congress and saw it become law.
“I believe that our veterans need to be taken care of,”?Cazayoux said. “We need to do a better job of doing that. The respect and effort we show our military veterans not only reflects on them, but on current and possibly future members of the military. If they see a government that does not respect its military members, they will think twice about making that commitment to serve.”
Cazayoux is also in the works to join the “Blue Dog Coalition,” a group of fiscally and socially conservative Democrats in Congress. The group also includes fellow area U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville.
“Charlie has been a great help to me in getting into the swing of things in Washington,” Cazayoux said. “Since we both represent Ascension Parish, we need to make sure we’re on the same page on as many issues as possible that involve Ascension.”