Dallas Morning News: Rep. Cuellar: Neither party owns all the good ideas

Washington, August 7, 2014

Rep. Cuellar: Neither party owns all the good ideas


Published: 07 August 2014 09:42 PM

Updated: 08 August 2014 10:33 AM


Americans are disappointed with the job Congress is doing, with good reason.

Last week’s failure of Congress to send President Barack Obama a supplemental appropriations bill to address the border humanitarian crisis is just the most recent example showing that Congress is broken and taxpayers have a right to be frustrated. Another delayed vote, another deadline faced, another vote breaking down on partisan lines. We haven’t done enough to support our communities, and I am not willing to sit back and do nothing while the border is in crisis.

That is why I supported the passage of the emergency supplemental funding in the House, while still opposing legislation to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that was proposed by the right wing. I would have preferred the supplemental to have included the language from the bipartisan legislation that Sen. John Cornyn and I introduced that would have provided funding to address the crisis and made common-sense policy changes. These policy changes were supported by some of the nation’s top Democrats, including the president in a June 30 letter to Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and some moderate Democrats in the House and Senate.

Nevertheless, even though it was not a perfect bill, I was unwilling to vote to do nothing and watch the Department of Homeland Security run out of funds in the next 30 days. I find it unacceptable that so many aren’t willing to sit down and work toward a solution that would address the humanitarian crisis on the border. Too many on both sides of the aisle painted themselves so far into a corner that any hope for a compromise was lost from the very beginning.

As a result, on the brink of hurricane season, the president is forced to move money out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard to keep our border operations funded because Congress failed to act for the people on the border.

Just saying no is not the leadership our people need, and I believe it is no longer acceptable to spend the overwhelming majority of our time looking for reasons to say no instead of looking for common-sense solutions. No one party has a corner on the market for good ideas. Voters elected us to work in a bipartisan, good-faith manner, craft common-sense solutions, and avoid crises in the first place.

Our country needs Congress to get serious about addressing our shared challenges. While members spend the next five weeks in our respective districts, we should all take a hard look at the families and businesses we represent and be reminded who sent us to Washington and why they sent us there.

When Congress returns in September, we will have many pressing issues to address, the most important of which is earning back the confidence of the public. We can do that by putting our emphasis on solutions, not hyperpartisan posturing. Both sides of the aisle are at fault, and it will take both sides working together to fix this broken Congress, restore the public trust, and get the job done for the proud American families we represent.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, may be contacted through cuellar.house.gov.