This week, I voted in support of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization conference bill, which will help ensure our national airspace remains safe and reliable. The bill modernizes airport infrastructure and improves service for the travelling public. It passed the House by a vote of 398–23.

The FAA Reauthorization also includes a bill that I wrote to make El Paso and other small airports eligible for funds to expand aviation services. The Department of Transportation provides grants for small airports through the Small Community Air Service Development Program so they can pay costs associated with attracting new air service. When this program was first created in the 1990s, the law was written so El Paso and several other communities were ineligible for this funding. My bipartisan bill, H.R. 973, fixes the limitation on this program so that El Paso may be awarded these grants. …

Today, the House considered H.R. 6691, the Community Safety and Security Act of 2018. I voted no. The Supreme Court recently ruled in Dimaya v. Sessions that our understanding of a “crime of violence” is “unconstitutionally vague.” It is necessary that Congress work on a more clear definition, and I want to be part of that open dialogue and bipartisan discussion.

But this bill was introduced only seven days ago with no committee consideration, no experts, no testimony, no discussion. That makes it only the most recent piece of legislation in a long line of American criminal justice policy that was rushed through Congress without understanding the full consequences. Without understanding the decades-long ramifications. It’s how we ended up with the world’s largest prison population, disproportionately comprised of people of color. It’s how we ended up putting more non-violent offenders into prisons with mandatory minimums. …

Last week I was honored to break ground at the new Medical Center of America’s (MCA) VA Mental Health Clinic in El Paso. I’m so proud of the work we did as a community to bring this new facility to El Paso and get our veterans the care they deserve.

Take a look at what this means for El Paso:

El Paso Times

“Officials with the [VA] health care system, the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation and U.S. Rep. …

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Earlier today, along with health care and VA leaders in El Paso, I was honored to break ground at the new Medical Center of America’s (MCA) VA Mental Health Clinic in El Paso, the beginning of in our community.

The groundbreaking follows the years of collaborative work with local veterans, community health providers and government officials to bring this necessary medical facility to the El Paso community. In the summer of 2015, I met with then VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin to present a formal proposal for the additional care, resources and facilities, and announced the idea for that pilot program at a later that November. The MCA was ultimately awarded the project in March of 2017. …

Today, the President signed into law the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, a massive bill that lays out the country’s national defense policy and spending priorities for the upcoming year. First in the House Armed Services Committee and then in the conference committee, I worked with my colleagues from both parties and both chambers to write a bill that does right by our service members. Like any bipartisan effort, there are provisions in the final bill that I don’t like, and other provisions we fought to include but did not make it.

I voted yes on the bill that became law today because it provides funding for the training and equipment our service members need as well as Fort Bliss in El Paso and installations around Texas and the country. It also includes the largest pay raise for our troops in years and several specific provisions I fought to add. …

Yesterday, the House voted on H.R. 6147, a bill to provide funding related to the Department of Interior, financial services, and several other government programs for Fiscal Year 2019. I voted against it.

There were several provisions in the bill that I did support and it would provide funding for many necessary government functions, but ultimately there were too many harmful provisions in the bill that reached the floor for a vote.

H.R. 6147 would cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by $100 million and its regulatory programs by $228 million next year. …

Today, I led a letter with Congresswoman Norma Torres and 39 of our colleagues urging the House Appropriations Committee leadership to ensure your tax dollars are not used to deport Dreamers.

You can read our full letter below:

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In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Congress passed a package of reforms — the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — to help reign in predatory banking practices that hurt consumers and curb the excessive risk-taking that helped plunge our economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Today, the House voted to pass a massive bill (S. 2155) that would undermine a number of protections at the heart of Dodd-Frank. While this bill sought to address some very legitimate challenges, the bad outweighed the good and I voted against it.

First, this bill would relax oversight and regulation of some of our nation’s largest financial institutions. Right now, banks that have assets totaling more than $50 billion — institutions whose failure could inflict major damage on our economy — are placed under heightened supervision. While there is merit to increasing that threshold, this bill goes too far and lifts the threshold from $50 billion to $250 billion — leaving all but the thirteen largest banks in our country without the maximum oversight necessary to ensure that their failure wouldn’t trigger another financial crisis. …

The Farm Bill has traditionally been a bright-spot of bipartisanship. For decades, Republicans and Democrats have set aside their differences to produce a bill that does right by our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities; that provides food assistance to low-income families; and that promotes conservation. The process was never perfect, but it was conducted in good faith — an example of how Congress can and should work.

Then came this year’s Farm Bill, which was written behind closed doors, with little opportunity for meaningful debate or input from most members of Congress and, by extension, those we represent. …

Last night around midnight, we wrapped up our work on the House defense bill (known as the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA). It was a marathon day of amendments, votes, and debate on a whole range of national security issues — all streamed live online for the public to see.

Like any bipartisan effort, this was a big, messy, sometimes contentious process. Neither party got everything it wanted. There are provisions in the final bill that I don’t like, and others we fought to include that will be good for our country and our security. That’s the nature of compromise. …


Rep. Beto O'Rourke

Official blog of the US Representative for El Paso, TX

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