December 27, 2015

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Congressional Report

Dear Friends,

I hope you are you are enjoying the holidays with family and loved ones.

Last week, I announced approximately $948 million in federal funds for construction at federal courthouses across the country. San Antonio will receive $135 million of those funds to build much-needed new federal courthouse to replace the currently outdated John H. Wood Federal Courthouse that was originally constructed as temporary movie pavilion for the 1968 World's Fair.

This past week, I announced an additional $26.8 million in federal funding for renovations to the Gateway of the Americas International Bridge in Laredo. This is on top of $62 million in federal funds that I announced a few months ago for the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo. The combined investment for renovations on both international bridges is $88.8 million, and will greatly help to increase efficiency and wait times at the ports, while also increasing security measures. Local and regional business can benefit from more tourists and travelers coming to Texas. You can read more about this project below.

My staff has also visited with officials in our district to go over ongoing projects and federal issues to help the community.

Lastly, as the weather may get cooler this winter, the chances of fire increase. I have included an information video from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to show you how to prevent home fires in winter.

As always, feel free to contact me or my staff in any of my offices. I wish you the best as we begin this new year.

Congressman Cuellar Announces Nearly $948 Million of Nationwide Federal Courthouse Construction Funds that Include New San Antonio Federal Courthouse

On December 16, I announced the inclusion of nearly $948 million in the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations omnibus package for federal courthouse projects. This money includes $135 million in federal funding for the construction of a new federal courthouse for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, Texas. This past September, the entire San Antonio House of Representatives delegation and I introduced legislation to provide emergency funding for the construction.

The current John H. Wood, Jr. U.S. Courthouse in San Antonio was built nearly 50 years ago and is suited not to the task of administering justice, but to hosting part of the 1968 World's Fair. The courthouse, as it is currently built, causes numerous problems for its users.

I thank Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL-4), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government; the San Antonio delegation; the federal judges in San Antonio who use the Wood Courthouse; San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor; and the City of San Antonio for their support in this effort.

Click here to read more.

Rep. Cuellar Announces Additional $26.8 Million in Federal Funding for Bridge I Renovations

$26.8 million for Bridge I, together with previously-announced $62 million for Bridge II renovations, represents an $88.8 million federal investment in Laredo

Earlier this week, I announced the awarding of an additional $26.8 million in federal funding for long-awaited renovations to the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge, also known as Convent Avenue Bridge I in Laredo. In June of 2015, I announced $62 million in federal funding for renovations to the Juárez-Lincoln International Bridge, also known as Bridge II. The combined funding for renovations to both bridges in Laredo are approximately $88.8 which I was able to secure during the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Year 2014 Budget.

Long overdue, the current port at Bridge I is 70 years old and is the oldest of Laredo’s four ports. Its last major renovation was more than 25 years ago. This new funding will allow for a complete internal renovation of the main building to optimize the space to improve pedestrian flow through the port.

The facility is in need of an updated design to improve wait times, waiting conditions and accessibility for visitors with disabilities or other physical impairments.

As part of this project, improvements will be made to increase the number of pedestrian processing lanes to 14 and add a dedicated bicycle lane, reconfigure the primary car inspection lanes, upgrade and modernize the secondary area for further inspection, modernize security systems so drivers and pedestrians can flow through the port faster and renovate the pedestrian canopy to shade them from the sun while waiting in line.

All of these improvements will make the process of moving pedestrians and automobile passengers faster, safer and more efficient. This should reduce peak automobile wait times from 33 to 15 minutes, and peak pedestrian wait times from 49 to 21 minutes.

Click here to read more.

A wider view of the north-bound traffic with images of the pedestrian walkway on the right. (Image courtesy of GSA)

Meeting with the Boys and Girls Club of Zapata and USDA

On December 21, my outreach coordinator for Webb, Zapata and La Salle Counties, Alec Martinez, met with Yvonne Garza of the US Department of Agriculture and Ramiro Hernandez, Chief Financial Officer for the Lamar Bruni Vergara Boys and Girls Club of Zapata, Texas, to discuss available grants available via the USDA and how our offices can help with the mission of the boys and girls club, which serves over 50,000 meals to children yearly.

Meeting to Discuss Ongoing Projects with Universal City Officials

Recently, my outreach coordinator for Bexar County, Pete Arguello, (right), met with Universal City Mayor John Williams (center) and Councilmember Tom Maxwell (left) to discuss their continued work during Neighborhood Office Hours.

Winter Fire Safety
Home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. This is due in part to an increase in cooking and heating fires. Holiday decorations and winter storms that can interrupt electrical service and cause people to turn to alternative heating sources also contribute to the increased risk of fire in winter. Winter fires can be prevented! This video from the Federal Management Emergency Agency (FEMA) shows how you maintain a fire-safe home this winter season.

Henry Cuellar

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