[StBernard] The Word from Washington: Oyster Ban, Health Care Reform, and Honoring Louisiana`s Veterans

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Thu Nov 19 21:51:37 EST 2009

Fall is my favorite season in south Louisiana, when the heat of summer fades
and everyone can get outside to enjoy festivals, football games, and the
start of duck hunting season. While I try to get home to Napoleonville as
many weekends as possible, this fall has been an especially busy time in

Last Tuesday, I headed back to Washington for a special meeting with the FDA
to fight their proposed ban on Gulf oysters during summer months. Following
this meeting, the FDA announced
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8140> they were putting the
ban on hold while they studied the possible consequences it could have on
Louisiana and its economy.

Recently, the House held a special Saturday session to vote on the health
care reform bill. After listening to Louisianians, I voted against the
health care bill because it would add billions in new spending to our budget
and because it included a government-run public insurance option.

And on Veterans Day, I had the privilege of honoring many of south
Louisiana's heroes at ceremonies in Houma and Gonzales.

Continue reading for more about these latest events affecting south

Fighting the Gulf Oyster Ban

Rep. Melancon joins Gulf Coast oystermen in calling on the FDA to reverse
its proposed ban.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration announced a proposal to ban the
sale of fresh, live Gulf Coast oysters during warm-weather months unless
they are processed. The ban, which would begin in spring 2011, would
severely impact Louisiana's oyster and restaurant industries, major sectors
of our state's economy.

On November 10th, I organized a meeting
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8141> with Gulf Coast
Senators and Representatives and senior officials in the FDA to voice our
strong opposition to this proposed ban.

Fresh Gulf oysters are part of our culture, and an irreplaceable part of
Louisiana's seafood and restaurant economies. The FDA heard loud and clear
that Louisianians don't want the federal government telling them how to eat
oysters any more than they want a bureaucrat in Washington telling them how
to make a roux.

The FDA got the message, and last Friday announced
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8140> they had halted
movement on the proposed ban, pending the results of a feasibility study on
the possible consequences of the proposal. While the details of the study
haven't been determined yet, I am encouraging the FDA to look at how the new
regulations could affect the viability of the Gulf Coast oyster industry,
how many jobs could be lost, and how the changes would impact the market
price for Gulf oysters.

If the FDA continues to move forward with this misguided regulation, I have
co-sponsored the Gulf Oyster Protection Act
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8142> (H.R. 4022) to prevent
the agency from using federal funds to implement the proposed ban.

We all want safer food for our families, but Americans have been enjoying
fresh, Louisiana-produced oysters for hundreds of years. This restriction
on Gulf oysters, proposed in the name of food safety, is like swatting a fly
with a sledgehammer.

Instead of heaping unnecessary new regulations on Louisiana businesses, the
FDA should support the successful education campaign already in place to
reach out to at-risk consumers and prevent illnesses. Consumer education
works, and the FDA should support these efforts.

Voting Against the House Health Care Bill


Rep. Melancon explains vote against health care bill in House.

For several months now, I have been listening to people in Louisiana express
their concerns and opinions about health care reform. At the grocery store,
in restaurants, even at the fall festivals, health care is the first thing
people bring up when we talk.

Those discussions were my guide in deciding to vote against
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8144> the House health care
bill on November 7th. I am working to make health care more affordable and
accessible for our families and businesses in Louisiana, but the House bill
is not that bill.

I'll work with anyone, or stand up to anyone, when it comes to what's best
for Louisiana. And the House's healthcare bill doesn't work for Louisiana.

In these tough economic times, Congress needs to be smarter about getting
government spending and the deficit under control, and the House's health
care bill simply costs too much. You don't have to be an economist to know
that the skyrocketing cost of health care is bankrupting our citizens and
our country. A fundamental goal of reform must be to bring down the growing
cost of health care. America's leaders need to get health care spending
under control, or we will never dig ourselves out of the mountain of debt
this country is under.

I also can't support a government-run insurance option that the people of
Louisiana don't want. In letters, emails, phone calls, and personal
conversations, Louisianians have told me they want insurance reforms that
will bring down costs, increase value and improve access for everyone. But
they also believe there are better ways to achieve those goals than a new
government program.

As someone who is personally pro-life and represents a deeply pro-life
constituency, I was happy to support the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the
House's health care bill, which would prohibit tax-payer funding of
abortions. This amendment passed 240-194 and will now be included in the
bill. Throughout the consideration of health reform in the House, I have
fought to ensure
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8145> that pro-life
provisions were included in any health reform proposal, and that fight will

In the coming months, I will keep listening to folks in south Louisiana and
working with people from both sides of the aisle. And I'll keep working for
smarter, more fiscally-responsible, market-based healthcare reforms that
protect the sanctity of life.

Together, we will find a way to make health care more affordable and
accessible for all Louisianians, and bring down the rising cost of health
care in this country.

Honoring Louisiana's Veterans

Rep. Melancon discusses veterans issues with a Louisiana veteran and thanks
him for his service.
On Veterans Day, Americans pause to honor those who have protected the
freedoms and opportunities we enjoy year round. I had the opportunity this
year of thanking many of Louisiana's heroes at Veterans Day ceremonies in
Houma and Gonzales. Shaking these veterans' hands was a great privilege,
and I am humbled by their sacrifice and love for America.

Making sure America's veterans get the unwavering support they've earned
should be a top priority for all public officials. America's veterans have
made enormous sacrifices to protect our freedom, and our nation should honor
their service not just with words, but with action
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8146> , too.

Recently, I supported passage in Congress of the Veterans Small Business
Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8147> (H.R. 3949), which will
strengthen the Veterans Administration's outreach efforts to ensure that
veterans get their earned benefits. The bill will also hold the VA
accountable for making sure federal contracting preferences and advantages
for veteran-owned small businesses are effectively targeting veterans.

I also supported passage of the Veterans Retraining Act
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8147> (H.R. 1168), which
provides a stipend and moving assistance to veterans who have been
unemployed for at least four months and are enrolled in a U.S. Department of
Labor re-training program. And I supported the Military Spouses Residency
Relief Act
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8147> (S. 475), which gives
military spouses the ability to keep or change residency when they move from
station to station, as is done for service members. This eliminates the
need change vehicle and voter registrations and to file tax returns for
multiple states with each move.

These bills will help our men and women in uniform, both while they are
serving our country and after they have fulfilled their commitments. I will
continue working in Congress to keep our promises to Louisiana's troops and
veterans by providing them with the resources they need and the benefits
they have earned.

As your representative in Congress, I am proud to be working on behalf of
the people of south Louisiana and see great things in the future. As always,
please feel free to write, email
piv=2100050113.42569.402&gen=1&mailing_linkid=8148> or call my offices and
share your opinion on the many issues being considered by Congress.

Charlie Melancon

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