Landrieu: 'Shocking' Vitter would say I'm not 'effective'

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) defended herself Thursday from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who said Wednesday that she isn’t “effective.”

Landrieu came to the floor to urge the passage of H.R. 3521, a bill to authorize the construction of 27 Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, two of which would be built in Louisiana.

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Vitter has come to the Senate floor multiple times to ask unanimous consent to pass the legislation, but Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has objected each time. Sanders would rather pass his omnibus veterans bill, which includes the measure on clinics.

On Wednesday, Vitter again made the same request and when Sanders objected, Vitter asked if Landrieu had pressured Sanders to back down.

Sanders said he had spoken privately with Landrieu and she had “forcefully” urged him to let it advance. Vitter then quipped that Landrieu must not be a very effective senator. 

“If Sen. Landrieu has forcefully asked the senator [Sanders] to remove his objection to this, apparently she has not been very effective,” Vitter said. “I think that is very unfortunate because veterans in Louisiana are suffering today.”

Landrieu faces a tough reelection race in November in a state that favors Republicans. She said she plans to offer a better version of the bill Vitter is pushing, calling his methods to pay for the bill “bogus.”

“I’ve been called many things on this floor … but I’ve never been called ineffective. So it was a little bit shocking to me,” Landrieu said. “Maybe my colleague was having a bad day, so I’m going to let it go.”

Vitter chided Landrieu for not coming to the floor to speak about the issue.

“A lot of us are waiting for her support of these important community-based clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles,” Vitter said Wednesday. “She hasn’t been on the floor. I urge her to join me on the floor to get this done.”

Landrieu said she would ask unanimous consent to pass her own VA clinic bill next week, but she expects Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to object.