This week saw the beginning of Hanukkah celebrations – to all those in our community observing, I would like to send you warm wishes during this festival of light!
Here is an update looking back on a busy week and looking forward to the next:
I hope you will join me this Wednesday evening for my last telephone town hall of the year, where I will provide a brief update on my work. I am also thrilled that Dr. Peter Hotez will join us to help answer questions on the most recent developments on the COVID-19 pandemic.
I spent the last week in Washington, working with my colleagues to pass vital year-end legislation. Among them, I am particularly glad the House passed the Senate-conferenced version of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. As you may recall, I worked at the Committee level to secure authorization for the Houston Ship Channel Expansion project in this bill, and I am glad to see this critical project one step closer to being signed into law.
The House and the Senate also passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes several provisions to improve military readiness, increases pay for servicemembers, contains improvements to military housing, and requires members of federal law enforcement, Armed Forces, or the National Guard to visibly display their name and agency when responding to a civil disturbance.
In addition, we passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government until December 18 and prevent a government shutdown. Negotiators on both sides of the Capitol are continuing to negotiate a long-term funding package. It is critical we do not allow the government to shut down in the middle of a pandemic.
The House voted and passed several other measures, among them H.R. 1570, legislation to eliminate the surprise bills associated with polyp removal that can help prevent colorectal cancer. This is an issue that I have heard from our neighbors about from my very first town hall, and I’m glad the House has acted on this issue that is critical to so many.
Unfortunately, another week has passed without an agreement on the next COVID-19 relief bill. I share the belief of many in our district that a new COVID relief package is not optional – we must do it to save from the most devastating economic impacts of the pandemic. A number of different paths forward have been proposed, including options with strong bipartisan support, but they continue to be blocked in the Senate by Leader McConnell. As Congressional leadership continues negotiations on COVID relief, I am continuing to push all sides to get this done, including ensuring that we provide small businesses with additional relief during this time.
This was a big week in the fight against the coronavirus. On Thursday, the FDA Vaccine Advisory Panel voted to recommend the agency grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer for their vaccine, which was officially granted late Friday. This is incredible news and a testament to the tireless efforts of scientific and medical communities. Houston hospitals are expected to get the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
Here are some important deadlines to keep in mind:
My team and I are here to help. If you have any questions or concerns on any of the matters here – or anything else – you can reach us at (713) 353-8680 or by emailing me here. I look forward to hearing from you!