Congressman visits Washington Parish

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rookie U.S. Congressman Dr. Ralph Abraham visited Bogalusa on Tuesday and toured the International Paper Mill to learn the inner workings of the mill and how the plant and city are intertwined.

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette, IP Manager Bernie Chascin, IP Senior Governmental Relations Regional Manager Lee Pittman and Bogalusa Mill Communications Manager Kalisa Hayman accompanied Abraham, R-Alto, on his tour.

“The trip to IP was just great. The workers were taking instrumentation classes and technical stuff. It is that skill we’ve got to have,” Abraham said. “Technical people run the world nowadays. They learn all about the electronics and machines. A technical college degree is an advanced degree nowadays. Without technical skilled people, we would be back in the Dark Ages. Once they get their degree, it’s always continual learning because technology is always changing.”

Abraham said he and other members of Congress from Louisiana routinely meet on a Friday and discuss important issues, including how to secure an interstate for Bogalusa.

“If Bogalusa ever could get an interstate, the city could get some big hotels,” Abraham said. “At the federal level, the Louisiana delegation has talked about this. We talk about not just what is good for one district, but for everybody’s district. We’re all in the same boat as far as what is good for the state. The Interstate Project to Bogalusa is on our radar. We’re hopeful.”

The Louisiana delegation includes Reps. John Fleming, Garret Graves, Cedric Richmond, Charles Boustany and Abraham. Abraham said U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and David Vitter also often sit in on the discussions.

“You’ve got to have the interstate. An interstate is a lifeline of the community,” Abraham said. “It opens up so many opportunities for business and commerce. You’ve got to have jobs and education. You can’t have one without the other.”

Abraham said local employment opportunities for college graduates are a must.

“In Louisiana, you’ve got educational opportunities but don’t have job opportunities anymore,” Abraham said. “Students are going elsewhere after they graduate, and that’s unacceptable.”

On the international scene, Abraham said ISIS must be eliminated.

“ISIS is like a virus, and it’s spread to other countries. They’re very real and very deadly. We’ve got to take care of them over there because we don’t want them over here. The president has said he is going to authorize use of military force, but he has put a time and troop constraint on it. That is basically telling the enemy when we’re going to leave. As congressmen, we’re glad the president is coming to us, but that restriction is unacceptable. It’s like taking a knife to a gunfight. We need to take a big, big gun and kill them. You cannot reason with these people.”

Abraham is on the Agriculture and Veterans committees. He chairs the Veterans sub-committee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.