Rep. Williams Calls for Financial Relief for Music Venues; Joins Lawsuit Against Pelosi Over Congressional Proxy Vote Rule
United States Congressman Roger Williams, who serves Texas District 25 running from southwest Fort Worth to south of Hays County, spoke to the Century News about his efforts with COVID-19 financial relief for “independent music venues,” and B&Bs, which would benefit local businesses based on tourism. He also spoke of his joining of litigation against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her implementation of a “Proxy Vote Rule” in Congress, which he calls unconstitutional; and his opposition to the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800).
CN: You’ve been vocal in support of COVID-19 related financial relief for rural hospitals, agriculture, ranchers, and more recently relief for “independent music venues,”- What would qualify as a music venue? What type of financial relief?
Williams: I guess the term can be a little generic, but the music industry is a big part of our culture, and many of these businesses have been devastated and they don’t quite fit the restaurant or bar label, they haven’t been addressed. It’s not black or white, but I understand that this is an industry that has been hurt. In Texas we like to put on our boots and jeans and go listen to some good music on Friday night, and I’d like to preserve that culture.
These venues were among the first to close as COVID-19 spread across the country, and they are likely to be among the last to reopen. Concerts and live events may not be possible until a vaccine is readily available to the public, which could be months away. Until that time, live event venues will remain shuttered, leaving employees without jobs and businesses without revenue.
We still have about $120 billion that still hasn’t been spent from the CARES Act, I’d like to see some that injected as capital to get people back on the road to their livelihood. I’d also like to see, going forward, putting something separate together for these businesses. In this I have bi-partisan support, [Congressman, Dem. Mo-5] Emanuel Cleaver, and others, have joined me in urging congressional support for independent venues during this pandemic.
CN: As the Wedding Capital of Texas, many Dripping Springs venues have had to close down, that includes many of the local B&Bs (Bed and Breakfasts) and hotels, most of which are family owned businesses. Are there financial relief mechanisms in place for them?
Williams: Some have already applied for funds under the current relief available. My office can help them there if they need help applying. I think the economy is going to come back once people start traveling again. That’s the end game, to get our economy going again. In this, Texas has led the nation. I think Gov. Abbott is doing well. This is not an economic problem, this is a health problem. There’s cash in the system. It’s not like a previous crisis where the banks themselves were weak. The banks are healthy, we have low taxes, we have low interest rates. We are poised to come back, and come back quickly. I’m a small business owner, car dealerships. Car dealers are the first to tell you if the economy is slow or good. But we’ve been able to sell vehicles. Inventory is a little low because the factories were shut down, but that’s beginning to pick up again as well. I think we might see some negatives in the third-quarter, but I think the fourth-quarter will have movement up.
CN: You have joined a federal lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenging the constitutionality of the new Democratic rule on proxy voting in Congress. What would you like Century News readers to know about that?
Williams: The fact that the speaker would allow this sets Congress on a dangerous pathway to abuse. There’s nothing in the Constitution about us turning over our [house] vote to another person. It’s unconstitutional. We [in Congress] all represent about eight-million people. We say we represent them. We shouldn’t turn our vote over to someone who doesn’t even live in the district. If you’re not there, how do you make sure the person is going to vote your way? All those people you were elected to represent lose their representation.
As it stands, you’re going to miss some votes due to illness or other unforeseen events, but if you’re going to run for Congress, then you should be there representing your people. Making a decision to join the lawsuit was easy.
While our communities begin opening up and people return to work, Democrats are content to sit at home and receive a paycheck while others cast votes on their behalf for the very people they were elected to serve. Some Democrats have already wrongfully utilized a proxy in order to attend a scheduled SpaceX launch, citing health concerns related to the pandemic to explain their absence and neglect.
CN: You supported the CARES Act, but voted against H.R. 6800, Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. It passed the Democrat controlled House on May 15, and is now going before the Republican controlled Senate. What is your opposition to it? Do you think it will be passed in the Senate?
Williams: That bill is a disaster. Even some democrats don’t know what’s in it. It disincentivizes Texans to go back to work, bails out blue states who create their own deficit problems through bad management, provide payments to illegal immigrants who have not paid into the system, and it changes our national election process by moving voting to the mail. I’m not talking absentee voting, like our military can do, or voting by mail if your 65 or older, but moving all voting to the mail. Through the mail, you can’t be sure if the who is voting. Remember, I was the Texas Secretary of State, so I’m familiar with the administration of elections. I remember some people were taking their parent’s ballots. Voting is the most precious right we have, so I can’t imagine someone not wanting to exercise that right in person if they’re able. Voting by mail also destroys the secret ballot. The secret ballot is an important part of our election process.
But there’s a lot more in the bill that nobody know about. The bill is more “you have to pass the bill, to find out what’s in the bill,” and that’s what’s wrong. We have to get away from it.
I don’t think the bill will pass in the Senate. [Senator] Mitch McConnel has already come out against it.
CN: Anything you would like to say in closing?
Williams: I tell everybody I appreciate the honor of serving and representing my constituents in Congress. I remind people that we are a great state leading the way in the comeback from all this. It’s a huge honor walking hand in hand with people--knowing we’ll look back seeing we did something right in a moment of history when it was called for.