I would like to share with you several updates during this week of session in Washington D.C.
First I would like to inform you about two amendments I successfully added to the FY2014 Defense Appropriations Bill and the FY14 National Defense Act which passed the house this week.
I successfully added an amendment to the FY 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill this week, requesting a comprehensive plan to assess excess military base infrastructure overseas before we consider the closure of any domestic bases. San Antonio, or Military City USA as it is known, is home to three important military bases – Randolph Air Force base, Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base.
In light of our current fiscal environment, it is critical that we reevaluate our overseas basing infrastructure to ensure we can maintain our operational requirements and strategic commitments abroad while also reducing costs.
My amendment to the bill asks for a comprehensive inventory evaluation of our military bases overseas. I believe the Department of Defense should assess overseas bases first to avoid the unnecessary closure of U.S. domestic bases. This will help protect our military bases in San Antonio.
American military forces and installations have a large impact on the economy of our Texas communities. In Texas there are over 250,000 Department of Defense personnel supporting a total economic output of nearly $149 billion. In San Antonio alone, our military bases support nearly 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in the surrounding communities, contributing over $46 billion in economic output.
|(Source: Texas Military Preparedness Commission, governonr.state.tx/military)
Congressman Cuellar during the House Appropriations Full Committee Hearing
National Defense Authorization Act
The amendment I presented to the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act will bring together the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Aviation Administration to jointly develop a plan of training and testing.
Cotulla Convention Center
It calls for the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration, to develop and implement plans to review the potential of joint testing training and evaluation of equipment and systems.
I am very pleased to see my amendment was included in the final passage of the bill with the support of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. This amendment will go a long way toward making sure we utilize all available equipment, eliminate needless duplication of resources, and make sure no taxpayer money goes to waste while strengthening the ability of the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to use unmanned aerial vehicles to protect us here and abroad.
Earlier this week, I attended the re-opening of the A.B. Alexander Convention Center in Cotulla, TX, in which I helped secure over $1 million in funds used toward the renovation of the building and the addition of its new nature center. The establishment, which will double as a disaster relief center, will primarily be used for private/public events. The nature center, located within the building, will serve as an educational foundation for the community to learn more about the natural and wildlife resources abundant to the area.
Congressman Cuellar with government officials at the re-opening of the Cotulla Civic Center
Congressional Cancer Research and Reform Task Force
I am honored to have become a member of the new Congressional Cancer Research and Reform Task Force. The purpose of this committee is to examine how we as policy makers can incorporate federal tax dollars to further improve cancer research and treatments with the help and consultation of scientific experts, and industry stakeholders, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) officials and medical doctors.
Welcome to DC!
I also met with young and talented students involved in the Close Up Foundation from the cities of Universal City, Floresville, and San Antonio, Texas. This program offers students an interactive and educational experience as they witness our government in action.
Congressman Cuellar with student participants in the Close Up Program from the cities of Universal City, Floresville, and San Antonio,TX. We discussed the upcoming defense budget vote, as well as, the importance of education.
Making sure students receive an affordable, quality education has always been a priority of mine. We must act quickly to prevent the student loan rates from doubling on July. 1st. I signed the Courtney Discharge Petition on the House floor to ask Congress to consider the Student Loan Relief Act of 2013 to prevent interest rates on federal student loans from doubling to 6.8%. This petition will extend the 3.4% freeze on subsidized student loan interest for the next 2 years. Immediate action had to be taken, we cannot afford to put our students and professionals, or the future of our country, in jeopardy.
Update on Affordable Care Act: Open-enrollment in the health insurance marketplace begins on October 1, 2013- Save the Date!
This week I would like to share with you what steps small business owners can take right now to get prepared for open-enrollment. Today, small employers like you have a tough time finding and affording coverage that meets the needs of your employees. Starting in 2014, you’ll have more choice and control over your health insurance spending through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a new program designed to simplify the process of finding health insurance for your small business.
To get information on the seven things small business owners can do to get ready now, visit
Congressman Henry Cuellar