Cassidy busy on Capitol Hill

Wade McIntyre
Three new Louisiana delegates have been sworn in to the House of Representatives of the 111th Congress.
The group includes William “Bill” Cassidy, M.D., a Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Baton Rouge, recently was sworn-in to represent the 6th Congressional District. The northern area of Ascension Parish is included in the greater Baton Rouge district.

In a phone interview with The Weekly Citizen Thursday, 6th Congressional District Congressman Bill Cassidy offered his take on roads in Ascension Parish, committee assignments, the upcoming Presidential inauguration and representing the minority party in Congress.

The Republican congressman, his son and wife are looking forward to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday.

“By golly, he is the President of the United States, we wish him the best and we all want him to do well,” Cassidy said. “My son is 14 and he is old enough to appreciate the history involved.”

Cassidy, a well-known doctor and teacher from Baton Rouge, and one of three new Louisiana delegates sworn into the House of the 111th Congress, represents the northern portion of Ascension Parish that is part of the greater Baton Rouge area district.

Commenting on his first week in Congress, Cassidy said he quickly realized that much of what he learned on the campaign trail will prove helpful in his new job.

“You learn a heck of a lot running for office,” he said. “The process of running and the things that I have learned has already begun to be influence the issues.”

After learning more about parish needs for land acquisition and improvements on Hwy. 44 in the Prairieville area during the campaign from Sheriff Jeff Wiley, Cassidy said he has already had an opportunity to discuss how 6th Congressional District road funds might possibly be allocated to high need roads such as Hwy. 44.

He described his early efforts in bringing the Hwy. 44 topic up during discussions on Capitol Hill as a test, and part of the learning process for a new congressman.

Cassidy said he is looking at long-term needs of the state and nation. If in 20 years adequate health care is available, the roads are adequate and people can get around on public transportation without having to use a car, he will be pleased.

All these are bi-partisan issues, each party just has a different way of bringing the changes about, he said.

The new congressman said he is content to learn the ropes as a member of the minority party, and that Democrats as the majority party have a stronger since of their majority than Republicans do.

Cassidy was early in the week named to the natural resources, education and labor committees, and as a member of the GOP Whip team.

Since then he was asked to join the agriculture committee.

“There was no one from Louisiana on the agriculture committee so I accepted it,” he said. “I’ll be relying on our farmers to learn more about their needs.”

As a teacher himself, Cassidy said he recognized while campaigning that farmers are patient and have the makings of good teachers themselves.

Cassidy said he would work to learn the needs of the education community and probably focus more on that committee, in part because his children attend public schools in Baton Rouge. He also has a strong interest in the natural resources committee because Louisiana “is an energy state” and many state residents are employed in the industry.

Cassidy said he has received a preliminary OK  from the House of Representatives to continue working as a member of the faculty at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge. LSU, which operates the hospital, will keep the money he otherwise would have earned under the agreement.

Part of his work at the hospital involves teaching medical students by observing the their work.

“They’ve never had a doctor before who teaches the students at the hospital,” he said.

Cassidy asked that residents in the 6th Congressional District contact his office whenever they have concerns about Social Security, veterans benefits, Medicare or other issues.

“My goal is to be their greatest servant,” he said.