Once again, I write at the end of a historic week. What I witnessed in the United States Capitol on January 6 and in the days since is vitally important for you to know.
This Wednesday, I returned to the House Gallery, one week to the day that a violent mob surrounded it while I was inside for the certification of the electoral college result. I was back in the House this week to debate the Article of Impeachment against President Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol, your elected representatives, and our democratic system that would once have been unthinkable.
During the debate, many members of Congress used their time to explain their reasons for supporting or opposing impeachment of the President. Sadly, many used their time to make false claims and comparisons, to continue to dispute the outcome of the presidential election, to blame others, and to continue with the dangerous narrative that what happened on January 6 was a peaceful protest.
It was not a peaceful protest. It was an armed attack, an insurrection of people who sought to disrupt the work of the government through force. The Washington Post has published a compelling video timeline of the events that took place inside the Capitol. (I was a part of the group in the House Gallery discussed from around the 9:30- to 13-minute mark in the video.)
While some present may have been caught up in something other than what they anticipated, make no mistake that organized, armed, and coordinated groups intended to stop the certification of the election results and were prepared to do so through violence. They stormed the Capitol with tactical gear, weapons, and Confederate battle flags, one of which was paraded through the United States Capitol. Five people were killed. Many more injured, most of them brave U.S. Capitol Police officers who engaged in hand-to-hand combat to protect the Congress.
As we continue to learn more about that day, there are many questions to answer. This week, my colleagues and I have worked to address the failures in intelligence, preparation, and planning that contributed to that tragic day. We are calling for several investigations:
How we respond—as a Congress and as a people—matters. And it has to start with telling the truth. That is why I took to the House floor on Wednesday to condemn the specious and dangerous statements being made by colleagues who sought to diminish the seriousness of the attack on the Capitol or this moment in history. You can watch my remarks here.
We have enormous and complex challenges before us. We are dealing with the health and other impacts of a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of nearly 400,000 Americans and the livelihoods of many more. I know it is true. Because I hear every day from people who need help with unemployment benefits, with economic impact payments, with housing assistance. This pandemic is real. Its impact on the health of all of us is real. Its impact on our economy is real.
At the same time, we have been engaged in a vital national conversation about race in this country—our past, our present, and our future. We have an opportunity to work to heal wounds that are as old as this country itself, and we must do so. This work, too, takes seriousness and truth. Seeing the Confederate battle flag flown inside the United States Capitol on January 6, after witnessing alarming increases in overt racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry across the country in recent years, reinforces the urgency and depth of the work that must be done to root out hate in our country.
How we move forward—to protect and improve the lives and livelihoods of our neighbors, to ensure justice for all, to make our union more perfect—is a great challenge. It requires serious people to address it. We need a diversity of ideas and perspectives, but we must start from the same set of facts. And it must be driven by a commitment to our country and to our Constitution, to the idea of government of, by, and for the people. That commitment has guided me throughout my time as your representative, and it always will.
On Friday, Houstonians filled up every one of the 2,600 new vaccination appointments offered by the Houston Health Department in 16 minutes. It will take time before everyone can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and until then we must continue our efforts to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. The positivity rate in Harris County is at 20.3 percent, and we remain at a Severe Threat Level for community spread.
As you may have seen in the news, the incoming Biden Administration has announced a plan to accelerate vaccine distribution, and has appointed trusted leaders to lead the effort. You can read more about it here.Each of us must our part to slow the spread of this virus. Wearing a mask, keeping physical distance, and washing our hands are the most effective methods to slow the spread. Getting tested can also help contain the spread. You can visit covcheck.hctx.net to find your nearest testing site.
I will be hosting a webinar with SBA-Houston on Friday, January 29 at 11 AM. We will help answer questions for this new round of PPP, provide information about the application process, and more.
You can RSVP here or by clicking the link below to join.
With this reopening, there are some key changes and additions to the program:
My team is also available to assist with any questions or concerns about the PPP. Call us at (713) 353-8680.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national day of service inspired by the courageous leader who saw what could be and worked to make it so, the man who reminded us: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” On Wednesday, we will inaugurate our 46th President. It is a week of that reminds us all of who we are, who we can be, and what we can do when we work together. I look forward to working with the Biden administration and with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the urgent challenges and opportunities before us. Despite the events of recent days, I remain hopeful that we can make real and meaningful progress.
I am proud to represent you, and I am here to help you. Please do not hesitate to call me to share your thoughts and concerns or to let me know how my team and I can help. You can email here, or call my office at (713) 353-8680 any time.