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The Road Ahead

Dec 4, 2020
Column

While Congress has delivered tangible relief for Texans over the last year, there are crucial pieces of bipartisan legislation that must be passed as soon as possible to further help our economy rebound.

The Save Our Stages Act would create a grant program within the Small Business Administration, allowing live independent music venues like Mohawk in Austin and Brass Hall in Marble Falls to survive the pandemic. In order to fully restore our economy, these venues need capital as they were the hardest hit by government mandates and face uncertainty down the road.

Even before the pandemic swept across our nation, areas in almost every one of our TX-25 counties lack access to high quality, high-speed internet. COVID-19 has underscored the urgency of expanding broadband access for rural communities across the country as we work to close the gap between rural and urban areas.

My bill, the Eliminate the Digital Divide Act, would empower states like ours to carry out their own broadband networks that best fit the needs of their communities. In order to collectively recover from the pandemic, it is vital that households receive the most up-to-date information and businesses adapt to a changing economic environment driven by curbside services, online operations, and ever-changing public health guidelines.

Internet access has dramatically improved the delivery of tele-medicine and we must continue creating policies that adapt to the digital age. The Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act would extend telehealth provisions in the CARES Act until 2025 and eliminate site restrictions so patients can receive care in their homes. Telehealth flexibilities under CARES have tremendously helped both patients and providers during COVID-19, and it is vital that we continue extending these waivers so Texans have access to essential care.

Our district is also home to dozens of craft beverage producers who face a catastrophic tax increase next month if nothing changes. Having already felt the devastating effects of COVID-19, a 400% tax increase on their growing industry next year would be disastrous – not only to them, but to businesses who rely on them for support. In order to keep this industry afloat, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act would make permanent the recalibrated Federal Excise Tax (FET) rates that were passed in 2017 and 2019 and are set to expire on December 31st.

Producers like Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs say the legislation “is imperative for their local, Texas owned business to maintain and continue business development and community outreach.” Revolution Spirits in Austin says that it “is not just relief, it is critical to the continued existence and growth of the Texas distilled spirits industry.”

We’re wasting precious time not acting on bipartisan priorities like these that have a real path forward and can provide immediate relief to hardworking Americans. Instead, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have chosen to concert their efforts toward pushing partisan bills that promote their radical agenda.

As we look toward the future of this next Congress, we have an opportunity to deliver by investing in renewed and reliable infrastructure, ensuring we continue on the road to complete energy independence, expanding broadband access so every community has high-speed internet, and adapting to the digital age with greater tele-health resources.

I’m ready to get to work.