January 31, 2019 600 AM
Hurd on the Hill
I have always said that my philosophy is simple: the only way we can get big things done in Congress is by working together. That is why over the last four years as your Representative I have been able to get 14 pieces of legislation signed into law. This term, I am excited for the opportunity to fight for South and West Texans in a new way: as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
This important committee directly exercises the “power of the purse” authority granted to Congress in the United States Constitution, which means my new committee assignment will allow me to add a South and West Texas perspective to debates on how the federal government both spends and saves taxpayer dollars. Many of the projects that I have already been able to deliver for the district have been because of my previous collaboration with the Appropriations Committee.
The Appropriations Committee funds our military and ensures our troops have the resources needed to combat 21st Century threats. For example, for over a decade at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, more than one inch of rain caused the Base flight line to flood, preventing our pilots from obtaining the flying time necessary to complete their training. I worked with Base leadership to help secure federal funding to start fixing this problem.
Many federal grant programs are also vital for projects in local communities, from helping seniors and low-income households pay their bills each month to repairing critical infrastructure. The increase in the amount of traffic on roads in the Permian Basin because of our growing energy sector in West Texas has resulted in more than 10 car deaths a month. We were able to secure $50 million in federal support to repair and expand roads throughout West Texas in order to keep people safe.
Another critical infrastructure project was providing funding for the North American Development Bank, which has helped jumpstart wastewater collection systems for West Texas communities. Without this funding, hundreds of my constituents in the Cotton Valley area outside of El Paso and in Marathon would not have access to clean drinking water or any sort of sewer system. The importance of federal funding for local projects cannot be overstated.
Those are big projects that make a huge difference for Texas. Other projects are more personal and affect individual household budgets. After finding out that only four percent of eligible Texas families were receiving Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds, I flagged this issue to the Appropriations Committee and was able to help Texans receive nearly $34 million more in funding. This ensures that 32,000 more households in TX-23 can take advantage of this program.
Along with grant programs, federal funding can also be used for public-private partnerships that help communities bolster their local economies, particularly along our border. Through the Customs and Border Protection’s 559 program, eligible businesses and organizations can form public-private partnerships with CBP to update Port of Entry facilities to improve cross-border trade and the flow of goods and services across our border. My colleagues and I prevented this program from expiring, ensuring the continued existence of vital funding for local businesses and communities that rely on cross-border trade each day.
Serving on this committee will not just be about appropriating federal dollars – it will also be about finding ways to reduce the size and scope of the federal government through more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Through relentless oversight of the federal bureaucracy, and writing bills such as the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT), I have helped save taxpayers over $5 billion that would have otherwise been spent on outdated technology systems. Members of the House Appropriations Committee are responsible for reining in government spending while ensuring that programs critical to our nation’s security are adequately funded.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reduce our debt and federal red tape so we can better foster innovation, job creation and continued economic growth.
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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.