Issues

Working to improve the quality of life for the people of Houston and Texas

First time visitors to Houston often tell me how friendly and welcoming our city is to newcomers, and what a wonderful place this is to raise a family. As a third-generation Houstonian and a fifth-generation Texan, I take great pride in our wonderful city. It’s a tremendous honor to represent west Houston in Congress.

Keeping my word and earning the trust of the residents of District 7 in each election has allowed me to build seniority and earn a leadership role on the Appropriations Committee. It culminated last session when I become Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. I am the only appropriator from southeast Texas, so I am in the right position at the right time to truly deliver and make a real difference for Houston.  

My stances on important issues

FLOOD CONTROL & PREVENTION

Hurricane Harvey proved to the world what we have always known: Houstonians look after each other, especially in a crisis. We are immensely strong and resilient. However, Harvey also created the largest housing disaster in American history. Tens of thousands of Houston homes flooded, and thousands of Houstonians are still recovering. I have secured billions in funding for those still suffering from the storm, and continue to work with federal, state, county and city officials to get that money out the door and into the hands of survivors.

In Congress, I spearheaded cooperation between the Texas and Florida Congressional delegations and worked across the aisle to secure the largest hurricane disaster appropriation in United States history - $141 billion in three separate bills. I used my experience from the Texas Legislature and wrote the bill in a way that ensures Texas is at the front of the line for these federal flood-control funds. Already we’ve seen the first $5 billion in flood-control construction dollars flow to Texas. It is enough money to finish every federally authorized flood-control project in Harris County at full federal expense. This means Brays Bayou is fully funded and will be completed far faster.

Since 2003, when I was first appointed to the Appropriations Committee, I have secured $457 million federal dollars for flood-control projects built by the Harris County Flood Control District. This includes more than $100 million for Buffalo Bayou, $200 million for Brays Bayou and $97 million to replace the gates on Addicks and Barker Reservoirs.

I strongly support the construction of a third reservoir to keep water out of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, and I secured all the funding the Army Corps of Engineers needs to complete the essential planning and design work to expand the capacity of our existing reservoirs. I am also co-sponsoring bi-partisan legislation that would update our urban flood maps to help homes and businesses better understand their flood risk and ensure that our flood insurance premiums take into account the latest flood-control improvements in your area.

GROWING THE ECONOMY

Houston is booming and the American economy is thriving. Low taxes, common-sense regulations, and protecting the Texas oil-and-gas industry has increased prosperity for everyone living in the 7th District.

I was proud to help pass the largest tax cut in American history last year. As a direct result, our economy is thundering, and American dollars stranded offshore are returning to the U.S. in record numbers. Ninety percent of Americans saw an increase in their take-home pay, millions of Americans earned bonuses, the nation’s unemployment rate has dropped, and consumer and business confidence in the economy continues to grow. Recently, the non-partisan Tax Foundation released its latest analysis that the tax cut would create "over 1.44 million new full-time equivalent jobs" in the next seven years. It estimates the Republican tax cut will create at least 121,671 new full-time equivalent jobs in Texas alone.

Texas is abundantly blessed with nearly immeasurable oil and gas reserves, and Texas will be the nation's principal producer of energy for decades to come. America is on the brink of being the world's largest energy exporter, due to the repeal of the oil-export ban, which I strongly supported and spearheaded in the House. Ending our dependence on foreign oil will pay dividends for Texas and Houston. Oil-and-gas jobs are critically important to the economy of the 7th District, and I have been a steadfast champion of creating an energy strategy that supports the industry and creates jobs.

Among our economic engines is the Texas Medical Center. It is the best and largest in the world and is a leader in innovation and research. I’ll will always fight to protect it, and I will continue to be a zealous advocate for increasing national investment in medical and scientific research. Breakthroughs in these areas are vital to the economic and technological challenges we face in the 21st century.

IMPROVING HOUSTON TRANSPORTATION

Keeping my word is a fundamental part of my job as your representative. My first campaign promise was to expand the Katy Freeway, which we did ahead of schedule and under budget. Opening up the Katy Freeway was like giving west Houston coronary bypass surgery, by reducing commute times so we can spend more time with our families instead of wasting it in traffic.

Recently, through my position on the Appropriations Committee, I was able to secure funding to rebuild the 610 Loop from I-69 to I-10. This is sorely needed for the region because it is considered the most congested section of expressway in Texas.

It’s also important to support other transit solutions like METRO. I have secured more than $46 million to help support METRO’s rail lines to the north and southeast and more than $7 million to improve METRO’s bus lines. I view METRO as a partner and have worked to try to change laws making it easier for the agency to use federal money on regional transportation projects that are cost effective and move the most amount of people.

Protecting the quality of life in our neighborhoods is a vitally important part of my job, which is why I have steadfastly opposed the construction of METRO’s rail lines on Richmond and Post Oak through the Galleria. Voters did not approve the Richmond rail line, and residents along both routes have strenuously opposed the project. I changed federal law to ensure that METRO must ask voters for their approval on the cost and specific routes for any new rail lines, guaranteeing they will have the final say on METRO rail.

STRENGTHENING NASA

NASA is one of our nation’s—and Houston’s—most valuable resources and strategic asset. As a native Houstonian, whose earliest heroes were the Apollo astronauts, it is a tremendous privilege and source of great personal joy to help restore the American space program to what it once was like during the glory days of Apollo.

I am the chairman of the Subcommittee that funds NASA, and I have kept my word increase NASA funding and support one of our nation’s most important scientific research centers. NASA now receives more money than at any time since its creation. This will have a ripple effect on jobs and economic growth for the people of District 7 and the entire Houston region. 

NASA is one of our country’s finest organizations. It attracts some of the most groundbreaking scientists, the smartest engineers, and the most talented pilots in the world. Millions worldwide have benefitted from its discoveries, prayed during its most precarious moments, and watched in awe during its crowning achievements. I believe scientists, not politicians, need to make the long-term, strategic decisions for NASA. I’ve sponsored legislation that would separate NASA’s funding process from the political whims of the White House and ensures that the agency’s strategic goals are decided by the astronauts, engineers, and scientists who know best.

INCREASING BORDER SECURITY

Protecting our quality of life also means securing our border and enforcing our laws that will keep our streets safe.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee that funds all federal law enforcement, I have focused on hiring additional prosecutors and federal investigators to truly secure the southern border and to fight human trafficking. I have also supported legislation to ensure that children are not separated from their parents when the parents are apprehended because they entered the United States illegally.

Additionally, I have also made record increases in the funding levels for the law enforcement grant programs that help state and local law enforcement agencies eliminate the rape kit backlog, to protect women and children against violence, and increase school safety. Earlier this year, I successfully passed legislation with Senator John Cornyn to ensure that the National Instant Background Check database is accurate so that criminals, like the man responsible for the shooting in Sutherland Springs, cannot legally buy a gun.

We need to strictly enforce our existing gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people suffering from mental illness. At the same time, we must balance the rights of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment in the Constitution.

COMBATING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Our health care system under Obamacare has become unaffordable. Congress must take action in order to make health care more accessible, affordable and, portable. Health care is vitally important to Houston’s economy because of the Texas Medical Center, which is another reason we must focus on stabilizing our health care system.

Since I took over as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, I have increased grants to fight human trafficking by 82 percent. This money goes toward funding grants to stop the practice, funding for programs that support violence against women, and support missing and exploited children. My committee has also made sure our federal law enforcement agencies are properly funded to adequately investigate and prosecute these egregious criminals.

HEALTH CARE

Human trafficking is one of the most heartbreaking issues facing our communities. It is modern-day human slavery, and Houston has the highest number of human trafficking victims in the country. Stopping the criminal enterprises that support human trafficking is one of my priorities working for you in Congress. Through my position on the Appropriations Committee, I have been able to increase funding to victims and law enforcement to crack down on this abhorrent practice.

As a free-market conservative, I believe there are steps we can take to stabilize the market. We should be allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines to provide more options to consumers. We should make it easier for small businesses to pool their resources to buy private insurance. I also support guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions and for allowing parents to keep their children insured as family members until age 26.

As a zealous advocate for science and medical research and the Subcommittee Chairman that funds our national science programs, I will continue to fight for full funding to find a cure for cancer, juvenile diabetes, musical dystrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other debilitating illnesses.



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