Op-Eds

DISTRICT WORK PERIOD IS NO RECESS

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Washington, September 2, 2011 | comments

As the month-long district work period ends and Congress heads back to Washington D.C. to tackle the budget and create jobs, my location changes, but my priorities for the 28th District of Texas remain the same.   After a series of meetings, unlimited conversations with constituents, and town halls you had one clear message for me and Members of Congress: we need to unite and work in a bipartisan matter to solve our nation’s toughest issues.

 

It is through the constituent voice that I am able to bring you results. This past month of district work period has been monumental for me. I spent the work period hearing from you, regarding specific issues such as deficit solutions and government efficiency, border security and education. I plan to return to Congress and speak to Members on both sides of the aisle on these issues and others pressing our nation, such as creating jobs and sustaining Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

 

Spending cuts matter

 

Various budget conversations and town halls were hosted throughout the district where I explained that earlier this year, the budget battle came down to where to cut. Every American is affected by spending cuts – from education, infrastructure and scientific research to other vital government programs. Constituents emphasized the importance of services such as Medicare, that are relied on everyday to improve quality of life of many - including the elderly or disabled.

 

I shared information with constituents through social media outlets, releases and my website regarding updates on my good government law implementation and the initiatives that the Administration took up to crack down on federal agencies.   As part of these efforts, the Administration depended on my government efficiency law, which will eliminate waste of taxpayer dollars from federal agencies and be the start of smart, budgetary savings across government.

 

Border Security still a priority

As a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and a ranking member of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee, I found it important to spend time discussing the efforts Congress is partaking in to secure our borders. Recently, the 28th District of Texas received $4,429,780 through Operation Stonegarden, an initiative by the Department of Homeland Security to enhance cooperation and coordination among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies along our borders. The funds will aid in purchases of equipment and officer overtime.

 

Cities across the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be on average safer in terms of violent crime rates than the national average according to Federal Bureau Investigation statistics. However, I understand the need expressed by ranchers and small business owners for increased protection. I will work with my colleagues on innovative ways to secure the border while remaining within the budget. Upon my return to Congress, I will attend three committee hearings that will touch on the security of our borders and will share with members the sentiments of constituents.

 

School visits taught me

The work period lands during a time when many families are preparing children to begin another school year. On the first day of classes, I met with teachers and staff at four schools. Speaking to teachers and schoolchildren solidified my commitment to our educators and to the academic prosperity of our children.

 

I attended, as a guest speaker, an education Town Hall to share the good news that the debt deal reached in August increases Pell Grants by $17 billion to assist students in paying for their higher education aspirations. In terms of local education dollars, the 28th District of Texas received $44.2 million in federal education funds earlier this year. These funds are saving Pre-K programs in Pleasanton and Pharr, maintaining art programs in Marion and hiring special education teachers in a Rio Grande Valley school district, to name a few.

 

The dedication of teachers in South Texas goes hand-in-hand to my service to constituents – we focus on the welfare of the community by envisioning a better future for our children, whether in the classroom or Capitol Hill. I will continue to keep education a priority of mine throughout my work in Congress.

 

Heading back with your message

I will be returning to Congress with a message from constituents to my colleagues: We must set partisan bickering aside in order to tackle America’s concerns – compromise should not be a dirty word. Every suggestion, opinion, or comment made to me is taken into serious consideration. I am taking your messages with me as lawmakers return to session.

 

My agenda upon returning will include job creation, taking part in budget and deficit debates, passing trade deals and keeping our border communities safe. My commitment to serving the district to the best of my ability continues as I return – my work is about you.

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