January 10,2016

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Congressional Report

Dear Friends,

I hope you all had a restful holiday season with friends and family.

Last week marked the beginning of the second session, or half, of the 114th Congress, and we are already diving right back into our work in Washington. We had a very busy legislative schedule here last week, with votes on the Affordable Care Act and legislation designed to identify federal regulations that should be repealed to reduce costs to the U.S. economy.

Key Votes

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on several key pieces of legislation. The House voted to repeal key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. I voted no on this legislation because of the enhanced access to quality health care that it has brought to my district. The president vetoed this legislation, and I'm confident Congress will not have the votes to override his veto.

Later in the week, the House voted on a piece of legislation called the SCRUB Act. I voted yes on this bill to create a commission to see which federal regulations should be repealed in order to reduce costs to the U.S. economy.

Creating a Healthier Environment in Hidalgo County

Last week, I announced that I had secured $2.5 million in additional federal funding to combat obesity nationwide through the recent government funding bill. This money will supplement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Outreach Program to Reduce the Prevalence of Obesity in High Risk Areas (those counties with an obesity rate above 40 percent). Hidalgo County is the only county in my district that meets the program's criteria.

It is my hope that by helping to create healthier environments for the residents of my district, they can lead long and healthy lives.

Click here to read more.

Stopping Improper Payments

Last week, I announced that I had included language in the new government funding bill to end tens of billions of dollars in payments to dead people, also known as improper payments to deceased persons. The language requires the federal Office of Management and Budget to report on how it will eliminate the misuse of funds, which totaled more than $124 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, an increase over the $106 billion from Fiscal Year 2013. Many of these improper payments are Social Security benefits.

Click here to read more.

Cuban Migrants Coming into the United States Through the Port of Laredo

At the end of December, I traveled with Congresswoman Kay Granger, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations,  to Costa Rica to see for myself the influx of Cuban migrants who are stranded in that country after Nicaragua closed their borders to Cuban migrants in November. Fearing an end to an outdated U.S. policy for Cuban migrants known as "wet foot, dry foot," a new surge of Cuban migrants have tried to enter the United States by flying first to Ecuador and then making their way up the continent to the United States. The vast majority of these migrants are attempting to enter the U.S. through the Port of Laredo from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

During my visit, I, along with Congresswoman Granger and S. Fitzgerald Haney, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, visited migrant shelters in Peñas Blancas and La Cruz, at the border with Nicaragua. More than two-thirds of all Cuban migrants are crossing through the Port of Laredo.

The "wet foot, dry foot" policy that is encouraging this risky journey by so many Cubans is a relic of the Cold War. It is a very dangerous route and makes the travelers vulnerable to human traffickers. I believe Congress needs to eliminate this outdated policy.

Click here to read more.

Congressman Cuellar speaks with Carlos Matías Gonzaga Martínez, mayor of La Cruz, Costa Rica, on the border with Nicaragua, regarding the Cuban migration situation. Roughly two-thirds of these migrants are coming in through the Port of Laredo.

Inviting a Constituent to the State of the Union Address

This Tuesday, President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union Address to Congress. To witness this event, I have invited Anthony Garcia, a fifth grader from Dr. Henry Cuellar Elementary School in Laredo, to attend.

Anthony was chosen out of 150 fifth-grade students at the school who participated in an essay-writing competition about positive habits that have made them a better leader and why they would like to see President Obama's State of the Union Address in Washington. He will be flown up to Washington to attend the address with me.

Congratulations, Anthony! We look forward to seeing you soon.

Anthony Garcia with Dr. Henry Cuellar Elementary Principal Melissa Shinn, left, and his mother, PaulinaMoncivais, right.

Recognizing 30 Years of Public Service in Charlotte
On January 7, my outreach coordinator for Atascosa County, Gilbert Lafuente, presented a congressional certificate of recognition to Augustine Muñoz for his 30 years of service to the city of Charlotte, most recently as mayor. Also pictured are Laura Morales, left, utility clerk, and Gracie Garcia, center, secretary.

Recognizing 43 Years of Federal Service in Laredo

On January 7, my outreach coordinator for Webb, La Salle and Zapata Counties, Alec Martinez, presented a congressional certificate of recognition to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Amando D. Garcia, who is retiring after an impressive 43 years and 10 months of federal service.

Neighborhood Office Hours in Sullivan City

My southern district outreach coordinator, Nichole Hernandez, attended neighborhood office hours in Sullivan City last Thursday. Pictured from left to right are Frank San Martin, grant writer; Leo Garcia, city commissioner; Nichole Hernandez; Judy Davila, city manager; and Roel Gomez (U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development).

On January 7, my southern district outreach coordinator, Nichole Hernandez, third from right, attended neighborhood office hours in Sullivan City. The city wants to begin 2016 by utilizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grants and Loans Programs to provide various services to the community. Among the items discussed were a Home Improvement Program for the Elderly, a loan fund for economic development, and how to acquire Community Facilities Grants to build a new City Hall.

How to Protect Yourself from Housing Fraud
This video from USA.gov shows a simple guide to help protect your home and money from scammers.

Henry Cuellar

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  Neighborhood Office Hours

Tuesday, January 12

Elmendorf City Hall
203 Bexar Ave
9:30am - 10:00am
Elmendorf, TX

Floresville City Hall
1120 D Street
10:30am - 12:00pm
Floresville, TX

La Salle County Offices
(every other month)
Court House Square
1:00pm - 2:30pm
Cotulla, TX

Encinal City Hall
107 N. Tejas
3:00pm - 4:00pm
Encinal, TX

City Hall Conf. Room
2 1/2 Miles, South
Farm Rd. 2360
8:00am - 9:00am
La Grulla, TX

Escobares City Hall
4851 East Hwy 83
1:30pm - 2:30pm
Escobares, TX

Rio Grande City, City Hall
101 Washington Street
10:00am - 11:30am
Rio Grande City, TX

Roma Community Center
502 6th Street
3:00pm - 4:00pm
Roma, TX

Thursday, January 14

St. Hedwig City Hall
13065 FM 1346
9:00am - 10:00am
St. Hedwig, TX

La Vernia City Hall
102 E. Chihuahua
1:00pm - 2:00pm
La Vernia, TX

Sutherland Springs
(call for appointment)
10:30am - 11:30am
Sutherland Springs, TX

El Cenizo City Hall
507 Cadena St.
9:30am - 10:30am
El Cenizo, TX

Rio Bravo City Hall
1701 Centeno Ln.
11:00am - 12:00pm
Rio Bravo, TX

Starr County Warehouse
Bldg. Pct. 4
FM 755 (La Gloria)
10:00am - 11:00am
San Isidro, TX

Starr County Self Help Center
10 Mayorga Street
11:30am - 12:30pm
Rio Grande City, TX
(La Casita)
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