Congressman Billy Long, R-Mo., has served as the U.S. representative for Missouri’s 7th Congressional District since 2011. He serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the subcommittees of health; environment and climate change; and communications and technology.
2020 Projection: Legislative progress will slow in 2020 as lawmakers prepare for the November election, though broadband access and privacy and security will be top priorities. On the election front, President Donald Trump will win his re-election bid.
SBJ: What new legislation do you expect to move forward this year?
Long: Privacy and security have become a huge concern [with technology] and hopefully we can move forward on those fronts. We’re going to be looking for real-world solutions. It’s something everyone has to get in the boat and row in the same direction if we want to get it done. We don’t want 50 different policies and for each state to have to come up with different laws. There’s no way to comply with that.
SBJ: What legislation will you be sponsoring?
Long: That’s a fluid thing because we’re not like the state where you can prefile bills. We work 12 months a year and Congress never stops.
Climate change is something that has to be addressed and needs to be addressed, and we’re working on coming up with better solutions. We’re looking for people in the private sector to come up with good ideas.
Drug pricing is another thing I want to work on next year … with the whole structure and way that they do rebates over the years. We thought we were in a good place, working hand in hand with the Democrats, doing something of a bipartisan fashion. Then, all of a sudden, the speaker pulled the rug out on the Republicans and Democrats and came out with (House Resolution) 3, which completely stifles innovation on it. We passed it, and it’s not going to go anywhere in the Senate. So, drug pricing is something we’ll need to work on.
SBJ: What will Congress’ response be to lack of broadband access across the rural United States, including Missouri?
Long: That’s been my No. 1 priority because I have a lot of rural areas in my district. … I anticipate broadband legislation passing. To me, a kid that goes to Neosho ought to have the same access to the internet that a kid from Kickapoo does. Your access to the internet shouldn’t be dictated by your geography. There’s a lot of things in that response that we’re working on, including mapping. Where they map broadband availability – the maps are awful and are totally inaccurate.
We’re in a race with China for 5G, and that’s something we’ve been working on. There’s a C-band [spectrum] auction, which will allow a lot of companies to move forward with 5G. The C-band auction will continue into the new year. We need to have the C-band and midband [spectrums] and bring 5G out to people. The merger with T-Mobile and Sprint has been a good thing, too. If it all comes together, it’ll be very good for rural broadband.
SBJ: Will marijuana be legalized on the federal level?
Long: Not in the near future. Everyone pretty much thinks it’ll happen eventually. But what’s the timeline on eventually?
SBJ: What’s the biggest challenge for 2020?
Long: 2020, unfortunately, is an even number. And any year that ends with an even number, very little gets done in Washington because it’s an election year. It’s going to slow down what’s happened because everyone’s worried about getting home and campaigning.
SBJ: Who do you see being the frontrunners for the presidential election in November?
Long: I think [Donald] Trump won’t have any competition in the primaries, and I also think he’ll win the general election, regardless. I had three picks from day one, and I said that the three to watch were [Joe] Biden, [Pete] Buttigieg and Howard Schultz of Starbucks. … I just don’t think Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders is electable. I think Trump wins, and I think Biden will give him the biggest challenge because people see it as a third term for [Barack] Obama.
SBJ: Will Missouri vote Republican in the 2020 presidential election?
Long: Yes. Missouri is a red state, and President Trump’s 18-plus point victory in 2016 demonstrated Missouri’s strong conservative values. I anticipate seeing an equally strong victory margin in 2020.
SBJ: Will you have competition for your re-election bid?
Long: I always have competition, and I don’t have any reading on them yet. We file in February, so we’ll find out then. But I’ll be re-elected.
Whataburger launched its second local store; Branson shop Revive Juice and Coffee Bar LLC moved; and a new Monett branch of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library District opened.