Remembering The Flood: One Year Later
I spoke at Wimberley Strong: A One Year Remembrance and Celebration of Recovery at the EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens on Saturday to remember the anniversary of the Memorial Day Weekend Flood.
It was an honor to address the Wimberley community during the one year anniversary of the Memorial Day Weekend Flood on Saturday. Although there is still work to be done, I am proud of how far these Texans have come.
You can read my remarks below:
"Thank you, Mayor McCullough, family, friends, and guests for being here today. One year ago, floodwaters ravaged this community. The foundations of washed away houses and piles of debris along the banks of the Blanco River bring back painful memories for me. I’m sure they do for you all too. Some of you may still ask yourselves, how, in the middle of one of the worst droughts ever recorded in Texas history, could this have happened to us? Why? We can spend all the time in the world thinking of these questions, but I assure you we’ll never find the answers. And that’s ok. The purpose of today isn’t to rehash sad memories, I don't believe, and bring back despair. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We are here to give thanks. We are here to be grateful for the first responders, grateful for leadership, and grateful for each other. I will never forget the outpouring support I saw firsthand as the Blanco was still sweeping everything up in its path. I will never forget the Wimberley Valley Chamber of Commerce telling my office, "We’ve had offers of help from around the country." Let’s remember how far we have come. Let’s remember Texans helping fellow Texans the spirit of resolve that makes us unique. I can’t help but feel proud of the restaurants and shops that proclaimed “we’re open for business!” only weeks after Mother Nature’s fury. As I said on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives one month after the flood, We have, and will continue, to take care of each other, look out for our neighbors and together, push forward. I believe we did that. We should all be so lucky. God bless every one of you. You all make me incredibly proud to represent such admirable people in the United States Congress."
Last year, I met with first responders in Hays County during the Memorial Day Weekend Flood.
Taking Care of Our Veterans
I am glad to announce that three of my requests were included in the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to address the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) patient backlog, project cost overruns and the toll-free crisis hotline after calls went unanswered.
Right now, the Obama Administration is not honoring its part of the deal to take care of our veterans when they return home.
On Monday, VA Secretary Bob McDonald compared the length of time veterans wait to receive care to lines at Disneyland "When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?"
The Secretary's quote is, while shockingly inappropriate, an accurate representation of just how out of touch the Obama Administration is when it comes to caring for those who sacrificed for all of us.
From patient backlogs to wasteful spending to an unanswered suicide hotline, we have a lot of cleanup to do to remind our brave men and women that we love them and that we will take care of them. This is the very least we can do for those who so selflessly put their country before all else.
This bill, which passed the House on Thursday, also contains $81.6 billion in funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, to provide housing and services to military families, to maintain base infrastructure, and to support veterans’ benefits and programs.
In April, I toured the blind rehab unit at the Doris Miller VA Medical Center in Waco.
My requests led to the following provisions:
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay a performance award to top executives.
Project Cost Overruns
In response to the egregious management of the Denver hospital construction project, funding for major construction projects over $100,000,000 in cost is fenced until the Department of Veterans Affairs certifies that it has contracted with a non-VA governmental entity to design and manage the project.
No funding greater than $5,000,000 may be reprogrammed between construction projects unless approved by the Committees on Appropriations in both the House and the Senate.
Any change to the scope of a construction project is prohibited without the approval of the Committees on Appropriations in both the House and the Senate.
The VA must report any bid savings of $5,000,000 or more on projects as soon as they are identified.
Veterans Crisis Hotline
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure that the toll-free suicide hotline provides to individuals, who contact the hotline, immediate assistance from a trained professional and adheres to all requirements of the American Association of Suicidology.
Last week, I joined my colleagues to urge passage of The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015 which will allow Vietnam Veterans who served in the Da Nang harbor and Vietnam's territorial seas to receive benefits for complications due to exposure to Agent Orange.
Ensuring Our Military Remains the Strongest Fighting Force in the World
Last week, I voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017.
In a time of so much uncertainty, we must ensure our military remains the strongest fighting force in the world. By passing this defense bill we are giving them the tools they need to accomplish their missions and remain ready to defeat our enemies.
The 2017 NDAA fully funds a pay increase for troops and authorizes the Secretary of the Army to carry out $7.6 million in military construction projects for Fort Hood.
Fort Hood is a treasure of Texas' 25th congressional district. Here I am greeting some of the soldiers at The Great Place.
While I am grateful The Great Place will now have resources to complete some of the much needed improvements to infrastructure, we have a long way to go. I visited Fort Hood earlier this month and have seen firsthand the much needed improvements that will have to be completed if Fort Hood is to remain the gold standard. Going forward, I will continue to advocate for Fort Hood to make sure it remains The Great Place that we know and love.
Additionally, my bill, which authorized a “land exchange” between Fort Hood and Copperas Cove, was included in the 2017 NDAA which is now on its way to the U.S. Senate.
Celebrating Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers
Last week I visited with Capitol Police officer Michael Killebrew in recognition of National Police Week.
For 30 years, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Michael Killebrew has devoted his life to ensuring the safety of those on Capitol Hill. I am incredibly grateful for his service and am thankful he is one of the first faces I see upon arriving to work each morning. I wish him the best of luck on his upcoming retirement. He will certainly be missed.
Member of Congress