Border Security and Immigration
Border security and immigration must go hand and hand. Protecting our border will help keep us all safe and will help prevent the drug cartels from preying upon and terrorizing our communities. I regularly travel to the Texas/Mexico border and have seen firsthand the destruction that the drug cartels cause to our communities and the pain they inflict on families.
In order to secure our border once and for all, I have introduced H.R. 22, the SMART Border Act. This is the most aggressive border security bill introduced this Congress. H.R. 22 outlines a robust border protection strategy and includes several measures to bolster the Federal Government’s assistance in achieving operational control of our southern border. The bill sets up a process for Congressional certification to verify whether or not operational control of the border has been achieved 90 days after DHS reports to Congress. If Congress does not certify that operational control has been achieved, the bill mandates the hiring of an additional 1,500 CBP officers and a short term deployment of the National Guard until operational control is achieved.
Washington bureaucrats have falsely concluded that the border is secure for years. In reality, 56% of the southern border territory is not under full control of the United States. Border patrol and local law enforcement do the best they can with the resources they have, but they need more help from the federal government. Washington’s continued failure to protect the border threatens both the security of our people and the sovereignty of our nation.
In order force countries to repatriate their lawfully deported nationals from the United States, I have introduced H.R. 241, The Timely Repatriation Act. By law, a person, who illegally enters the United States and is ordered deported, must be repatriated to his or her country of origin. However, many countries either refuse or unreasonably delay repatriation. Because of this lack of cooperation, these individuals remain in the United States, many of whom have criminal records. To make matters worse, ICE is legally required to release these criminal aliens back into U.S. communities if their repatriation is not “reasonably foreseeable,” putting our own citizens at risk. Under H.R. 241, a country that does not repatriate their citizens will have certain diplomatic visas revoked until they comply with international law and take back their lawfully deported citizens.
I support an all-of-the above energy policy and am committed to reducing the U.S.’s dependency on foreign sources of oil. We cannot rely on unstable regions of the world to supply our energy. This is a matter of national security. The development of new drilling techniques and the discovery of huge domestic reserves of oil and natural gas have opened up the possibility that America can once again be energy independent. There was a time when America led the world in energy production, and we can do it again if the federal government gets out of the way and stops forcing us to be dependent on the Middle East and Venezuela for our energy.
I also support expediting the permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports (LNG) and crude oil exports, and I was pleased to support lifting the 40 year old ban on crude oil exports. Exporting LNG and crude oil will help economy, create jobs, and bring in new tax revenue for Texas. These exports will also help our allies abroad become energy independent, not having to rely on the Middle East or Russia for their energy needs.
I also support simplifying the tax code, lowering the corporate income tax rate and cutting down the regulatory burden facing our energy industry. These changes will allow more energy to be produced domestically, and at a lower price which benefits us all.
Our national debt stands at more than $19.5 trillion. That’s equal to $166,769 of debt per taxpayer. The only solution now is to make drastic changes that reduce the size of our bloated federal government. Our national debt is arguably the greatest threat to our nation’s long term stability. Congress has the power of the purse and therefore a moral obligation to reign in government waste and out of control spending. I’ve also introduced legislation to sell off unused federal land (not national parks) to help raise revenue to pay down the national debt.
I have introduced legislation to sell off unused federal land (not national parks) and cut foreign aid to our enemies to help raise revenue to pay down the national debt.
Foreign Affairs and Trade
As a Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Chairman of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee, I believe that the primary responsibility of our government is to keep Americans safe. After holding more than a dozen hearings on the previous Administration’s counter-terrorism policy, it was clear it was a disaster. Under the previous Administration’s watch, ISIS grew to hold more territory, kill more people, and accrue more money than any other terrorist group in modern history. In response to this failing policy, I wrote a provision in the 2016 defense law that required the President to come up with a real, comprehensive strategy that would defeat – not just contain – ISIS. I also authored language that became law to require the United States government to do a better job cutting off ISIS’ finances by combatting its use of social media and naming those governments that pay ransoms to ISIS. And it’s not just ISIS. From al-Shabaab in Somalia to Al-Qaeda in Yemen to the Taliban in Afghanistan, terrorist groups continue to pose a worldwide threat. I will keep exercising vigorous oversight of the United States’ counter-terrorism policy.
America’s strength is closely connected to its economic well-being. I am a strong supporter of free trade. Trade is the lifeblood of Houston’s economy. With over 95% of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, we should not put American companies at a disadvantage to their foreign counterparts. When Americans can compete on a level playing field, we win. U.S. manufacturers have a more than $50 billion surplus with trade-agreement countries, but a $500 billion deficit with non-free trade agreement countries. When we break down trade barriers, American trade and American jobs rise.
Finally, since its founding, America has stood as a beacon of liberty to a watching world. We must stand up for those who have no voice. Dictators and their crony regimes must be opposed. Universal rights, such as freedom and justice, must be upheld.
Decisions about your personal health care should be made between you and your doctor, not the federal government or some unelected bureaucratic board. While I recognize that the health care system needs to be reformed, a government-run system is not the answer. I opposed Obamacare and support its full repeal and replacement. I was the first Member in the House of Representatives to introduce legislation to defund the individual mandate provision of this law and firmly believe that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to force any American to purchase any product.
Our health care system should provide access and choice, while ensuring quality care. Obamacare has driven up premiums and deductible costs for individuals, families and businesses. It forces people off plans they like and fuels waste, fraud and abuse. I support all efforts to phase out and replace Obamacare with a patient-centered health care plan that offers more choices at lower costs.
Jobs and Economy
The US has become an unfriendly place to do business. Many companies fear the environment of uncertainty, complicated tax structure and onslaught of costly regulations. As a result, they choose to sit on the sidelines and not hire or expand. Unfortunately, our federal agencies have grown so large and so powerful that they act like a fourth branch of government. I have supported legislation to streamline the regulatory process for small businesses and to require Congress to affirmatively approve any federal regulations that have a significant impact on our economy, as well as legislation that would create a commission to look at current regulations that could be sunsetted.
National Defense and Military
The United States has long had the greatest military in the world. We must recognize that our military’s contributions – both during service and after our troops come back home – are essential to our country’s day to day life.
I frequently travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries where our troops are stationed to visit with them and thank them for their honorable service. However, thanking them isn’t enough. While our troops are overseas fighting for our nation, there are things that we must do back home to help support them.
The first thing we must do is ensure that the military receives the resources it needs to get the job done. We cannot shrink the size of our military or reduce its readiness when we face defiant, determined and well-funded enemies. Other major world powers, like China, are expanding the size of their military and will surpass us in strength if we continue down the path that the previous Administration put us on. That’s why I’ve supported legislation to prohibit the Administration from closing down any additional military bases and to fund the continued manufacturing of F-35 fighter jets, which are manufactured in Texas. Not only will this strengthen our presence in the air in our fight against ISIS, and other enemies, but it will help strengthen the Texas economy.
We must also ensure that the morale of our service-members stays high and that they and their families know that they are being taken care of by our nation. That’s one reason why I was proud to support a recent pay raise for our troops, which they have earned and deserve.
It isn’t enough, however, to just support our troops while they are overseas. We must also support them when they return home from service. We must respect and help our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who return home to civilian life after years of duty. That’s why, each Congress, I support legislation to clean up the mess at the VA and ensure that our veterans receive the best care possible, whether it be from the VA, or through a voucher program that would allow veterans to see a private doctor.
The federal government has grown too big thanks to unchecked, excessive spending. It’s time to cut up Washington’s credit card, reduce the individual and corporate tax rates and significantly cut spending to levels that sustain those services that the federal government is constitutionally authorized to provide. For too long the federal government has acted as though it could spend what it does not have without consequences. Total federal spending, as a percentage of our economy, is at its highest level since World War II. Lower our tax burden and simplifying the system are one of the major priorities of House Republicans in the 115th Congress.
I was also instrumental in pushing for legislation to become law that would make the sales tax deduction for Texans permanent. This deduction was made permanent at the end of 2015.
Our transportation systems drive the American economy by moving people and goods quickly across our large nation. Today, there is an increasing demand for more efficient and speedier modes of transportation to satisfy the needs of travelers and shippers. This demand places more pressure and strain on our transportation infrastructure, which is already struggling to keep up.
I have worked to ensure that Houstonians have multiple transportation options in our region, and I helped to expedite the northern section of the Grand Parkway which now provides a seamless connection from Kingwood and Humble with The Woodlands, Spring and NW Houston. I also serve as co-chair of the Congressional PORTS Caucus where I help advocate for the Port of Houston and ensure that our Texas ports have the federal resources they need to be competitive in the global market.
Victims' Rights and Crime
I’ve dedicated my life to promoting justice. As a former prosecutor and criminal court judge, I saw that victims were left out of the criminal justice process and vowed to change this. Victims deserve a voice. I will continue to fight on their and law enforcement’s behalf through the bipartisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus (VRC), which I founded with Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) in 2005. The Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus is a proven and effective leader in advocating for crime victims. During its ten years in existence, the Caucus has taken the lead in protecting programs that provide critical support for victim services throughout the nation, including the Crime Victims Fund (VOCA) and Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA). The Caucus was also instrumental in the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, the Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization of 2013, and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (JVTA).
In particular, JVTA provided critical funding to victims’ services programs, increased the authority of law enforcement to investigate and punish traffickers and created multiple grant programs to create shelter spaces, anti-trafficking task forces and court programs for victims. Finally, just this last year, the VRC helped achieve the passage of another important victims’ rights bill, the Justice for All Act (JFA). This bill provides resources to forensic labs to reduce the rape kit backlog, increases restitution for crime victims and improves housing rights for domestic violence victims.
I am proud of the success I have achieved on behalf of victims, and look forward to continuing to work tirelessly on their behalf during the 115th Congress.