January 17,2016

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Congressional Report

Dear Friends,
This past week marked President Barack Obama's last State of the Union Address. The State of the Union is important for the tone the president sets for the coming year. The president repeatedly called for greater bipartisanship between both sides of the aisle and lamented the fact that the rancor between the two parties had only grown stronger since he took office. I have always tried to cultivate a bipartisan spirit and appreciated the president's focus here.

As always, my district staff was hard at work last week traveling across the district and listening to constituents' needs. I also spent part of the week in the district. You can read more about that below.


State of the Union
I invited fifth-grader Anthony Garcia from Dr.
Henry Cuellar Elementary School to attend the
State of the Union as my special guest after he
won an essay-writing competition.

Every January, the president reports to Congress on the "State of the Union." This year was President Barack Obama's last such address. Every year, I have the opportunity to invite a special guest to join me in the House Chamber during the address. This year I invited Anthony Garcia (pictured above), a fifth grader who attends Dr. Henry Cuellar Elementary School in Laredo. He was selected after winning an essay-writing competition explaining what positive habits they had learned to make them a better leader and explaining what they thought they could learn from the trip. To see more pictures from Anthony's trip, please click here.

I appreciated the president's emphasis on the need for greater bipartisanship in Congress and understood what he meant when he said he regretted that the rancor between the two parties had only grown stronger since he took office. To read more about my thoughts on the address, please click here


Signing onto Cuban Benefit Legislation
Last week I signed onto legislation offered by Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida that would take a step in creating a more level playing field regarding Cuban immigrants who arrive in the United States. As I have stated before, the fact that Cubans are given preferential treatment in benefits and residency status is unfair and a relic of the Cold War. Mr. Curbelo's legislation would do away with the automatic, no-questions-asked, federal benefits all Cubans receive and put them at the same standard as other refugees.


Speaking at the International Trade Commission

On Wednesday, I spoke in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington. Last summer, I fought to pass Trade Promotion Authority to make this multinational agreement possible. Congress has not yet taken up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but if passed, it would remove barriers to trade and create jobs both in our district and across the nation. I thank the ITC for the opportunity.

Touring the Rio Grande Valley with Democratic Colleagues
On Thursday, I, along with Rio Grande Valley Congressmen Ruben Hinojosa and Filemon Vela, hosted some of our Democratic colleagues in the Valley. We toured the region meeting with key stakeholders.
On Thursday, I, along with fellow Rio Grande Valley Congressmen Ruben Hinojosa and Filemon Vela, hosted seven Democratic colleagues from the House in the region. We toured the region, visiting the Pharr port of entry, as pictured above, as well as the Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.

As a representative of the region, I am always looking to tell the story of the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas. Hosting our fellow members of Congress gave us the opportunity to show them how important our region is, not just to the U.S.-Mexico border and the state of Texas, but to the nation as a whole. Energy, agriculture, and trade are extremely vital both locally and nationally. I hope that our colleagues cane away from their visit more informed and with a heightened sense of the complex dynamics of South Texas. I encourage them to join us in spreading the message that what happens here impacts the entire nation.

To read more about their visit, please click here.

Announcing Year Two of an HIV/AIDS Treatment Grant for Laredo
On Friday, I announced a $2 million federal grant to help with HIV/AIDS treatment in Laredo at City Hall. From left to right are Councilman Alex Perez, Mayor Pete Saenz, and City of Laredo Health Department Director Dr. Hector F. Gonzalez.

On Friday, I announced the second year of a four-year, $2 million federal grant to tackle HIV/AIDS in Laredo. The first budget year's grant amount was $500,000. The grant, which runs from 2014 to 2018, is for a total of $2 million and was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help the City of Laredo Health Department combine comprehensive HIV/AIDS services with services for co-occurring substance abuse and/or behavioral health disorders. The program will reduce the risk of HIV transmission, improve outcomes for those living with HIV, and ultimately reduce new infections. I helped facilitate the interaction between Laredo city officials and SAMHSA.

To read more about the grant and the announcement, please click here.

Attending a Veterans Affairs Management Advisory Council Meeting
Last week my southern district outreach coordinator, Nichole Hernandez, second from right, attended the local Department of Veterans Affairs Management Advisory Council meeting.

Last week my southern district outreach coordinator, Nichole Hernandez, attended the local VA's Management Advisory Council meeting, where she received updates on the performance and goals for local clinics. Pictured above from left to right are Office of Congressman Filemon Vela district staffers Jasey Cardenas and Anissa Guajardo, VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System (VATVCBHCS) associate director Zachary Sage, interim director Joe Perez, Nichole Hernandez, and VATCBHCS voluntary services specialist Patrick Hawkins.

Recognizing the Laredo Vet Center
Last week my Webb County constituent services representative Alec Martinez, third from right, presented the Laredo Vet Center with a certificate of recognition for its 35 of service to the local veterans' community.



Meeting with the Alzheimer's Association in San Antonio
On Thursday, my Bexar County outreach coordinator, Pete Arguello, right, met with Meg Barron, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association in San Antonio at the organization's new office to discuss how our offices can continue to work together on various outreach initiatives for South Texas residents and families suffering from Alzheimer's.


Visiting the Atascosa Junior Livestock Show
On Friday, my Atascosa County outreach coordinator, Gilbert Lafuente, right, went to the Atascosa Junior Livestock Show. Pictured above, from left to right, are Jim Marsh and his wife Ruth. Mr. Marsh is on the board of directors of the South Central Independent Cattelemen Association.

Video: FDIC Coverage
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation recognizes different types of ownership categories that qualify for insurance coverage. This video helps you understand the relevant information for each type of qualifying account and how much coverage you can be eligible for.



Sincerely,
Henry Cuellar
 


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