WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLFI) - Tippecanoe County leaders looked to get some help from their congressman on the first day of their trip to our nation's capital.
Wednesday evening several dozen members of the local delegation met with U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.).
Dan Klein is in Washington, D.C., this week, and he spoke with Rokita, who represents Indiana District 4, about why the visit is important and also grilled him about a recent controversial vote he made.
The conference room was packed as area leaders met with Rokita.
"You can't do that on Skype," Rokita said. "You need to have a two-way conversation."
Though News 18 was not allowed to listen in on the 40-minute conversation, one of the biggest topics was the Wabash River Corridor and making policy changes to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to work on riverbank stabilization.
"I think everyone realizes that ecosystem restoration and bank stabilization really go hand in hand," Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski (D) said. "It's a common-sense change that's long overdue."
"This chamber group made up of community leaders came with ideas, not only for themselves, but for the entire nation, that don't cost a penny," Rokita said.
"They see your passion, they see how important it is to you," Roswarski said. "I think that does have an affect on lawmakers rather than just mailing them a piece of paper."
Of course, the issue looming in D.C. is the sequester: automatic federal spending cuts triggered if Congress doesn't act by Friday, amounting to $85 billion this fiscal year.
Rokita says it's going to happen, but President Barack Obama will have flexibility so necessities like firefighters or food inspectors won't have to be trimmed.
For Republicans like Rokita, any tax hike is unpalatable and a deal-breaker.
"We just had a tax increase at the end of the year," Rokita said. "So it's been palated, now we need to get to the real cause of the deficit and that's spending."
One of Rokita's recent votes here on Capitol Hill raised some eyebrows. Last month, he was one of a number of Republicans to vote against a bill that would give $51 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief and clean-up efforts because it was not budget neutral.
"If a disaster ever did come to my district or to Indiana that wasn't already budgeted for – that's what this is, the Sandy stuff is all new spending – you bet Todd Rokita would be offering and voting for solutions that would prioritize the emergency and what wasn't such an emergency anymore," Rokita said.
When pressed about a hypothetical emergency relief bill for Indiana that would not be budget-neutral, he declined to answer.
"When any of that becomes a reality, I promise I will do an interview with you," Rokita said.
But when focusing on the realities and issues at hand like the Wabash River corridor Wednesday, Lafayette-area officials seemed pleased with the results.
The Lafayette delegation is scheduled to meet with both Indiana senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly Thursday.
They will also be visiting the Georgetown Riverfront Development area which some officials hope can help model what a future Wabash Riverfront may look like.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office wants residents to be aware of fire hazards involving Christmas trees and decorations during the holiday season.
Rural and volunteer fire departments in 14 southern Indiana counties are getting a boost from a share of more than $314,000 generated by the sale of trees felled in some of the state's forests.
Catholics in Tippecanoe County prayed to combat hunger around the world.