Busy Week in the House

Last week the House passed a “minibus” appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2019, a $15 billion rescissions package, and a critical bill to curtail gang violence in our communities.

I voted for the 2019 “minibus” appropriations package which includes the Energy and WaterMilitary Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills. This legislation prioritizes our national security, invests in America’s infrastructure, targets funds for economic growth, and cares for our veterans.

I ensured that the Energy and Water portion supports the Army Corps of Engineers’ work, which is critical for the protection and well-being of our district. This legislation funds the Corps at $7.28 billion, an increase of $451 million above last year, to provide a much-needed influx of funds into our nation’s water resources infrastructure. This legislation dedicates $11.908 million for construction on Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries, which will allow the Corps to continue their work on the important outflow structure replacement project at the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. It also includes $2.675 million for the Corps to continue the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study and $604,000 to complete the Corps’ study of the Houston Ship Channel.

Last week, the House passed H.R. 3, the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act.  I voted to support this legislation, and here is why: The national debt is more than $21 trillion, and the annual deficit could reach $1 trillion next year. H.R. 3 rescinds $15 billion that was appropriated by Congress, but that the Treasury never spent. It is commonsense to use unspent dollars to reduce the deficit. This is an important step to getting our country’s fiscal house in order.

Do not be fooled by the rhetoric: The Administration’s Rescissions package will not diminish or affect health care coverage for children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

To be sure of this, I asked lawyers at the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Congressional Research Service (CRS). CBO confirmed $5.1 billion would be rescinded from unobligated balances and would not affect CHIP coverage. CRS confirmed that since 2009, only three states have withdrawn money from the Child Enrollment CHIP Contingency Fund; Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee. All those payments totaled roughly $300 million, with the largest ever in a single year being $224.3 million.

The reality is this money is no longer needed for its intended purpose and by law cannot be spent. Even if the $5.1 billion in CHIP funding is not rescinded, the funding will sit untouched because the spending authority has expired.

The $1.9 billion rescinded from the Child Enrollment CHIP Contingency Fund leaves a cushion of $500 million as a safety net. This is more than enough. Plus, Texas has never had to withdraw any money from the contingency fund. You can read the CRS Report for more information about CHIP financing here. The letter from the Congressional Budget Office about these CHIP rescissions can be read here. 

Another important bill I supported last week was the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act (H.R. 3249) to reduce gun crime and gang violence in America. My FY19 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill dedicates $50 million to this vital program.

Harris County has the highest membership of MS-13 in the entire state of Texas, and they are an increasing threat to our community. Our local and regional gang task forces are on the front lines fighting evil gangs, like MS-13, every day. This bill will give them better tools, more funding, and additional support from federal and state partners so that they can better protect our communities. 

I’m encouraged that this bill is now on its way to the White House to be signed into law. I will continue doing everything in my power to end gang activity in our community.

It is an honor and privilege to represent you and Texas in the United States House. 


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