I write to you this week with a heavy heart, as I think of the great loss in our community and our country at this moment. With the continued spread of the coronavirus across Texas, many of our neighbors are grieving the loss of family and friends in our community.
I returned to Washington today with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to the hope he brought to his work for constituents and country. I will be here for a few weeks, working on critical legislation and will update you on the progress. This past week, I was working from home in Houston, and I am glad to send you this update on my work.
The novel coronavirus continues to spread across our community and state. Harris County is still under a COVID-19 Threat Level 1, and today, our state reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus infections for a fifth day in a row. You can find the most up-to-date information for Houston & Harris County and Texas through these links. Harris County continues to have the highest number of reported cases in our state.
With the impacts of coronavirus on all of our minds, I will host my next COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall next Sunday, July 26 at 3pm. We will be joined by local public health leaders Dr. Umair Shah, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health, and Dr. Catherine Troisi, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist at UT Health School of Public Health.
Congress continued to work in committees this week, preparing legislation that the full House of Representatives will vote on over the next few weeks. On the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. I am glad to report to you that, working with a bipartisan coalition, I was able to secure authorization for the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Project. As many of you are aware, expanding the Houston Ship Channel is a smart and much-needed investment to our infrastructure that is critical to our region’s economy. Since I arrived in Congress, I have been working with the Port of Houston, the Army Corps of Engineers, and with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on both sides of the aisle to move the project forward.
I spoke during our markup about the importance of this project to our region and to our country’s economy, which you can watch here.
This week, I was glad to announce new bipartisan legislation to implement a federal PFAS study that will help protect our communities, our health, and our environment. These chemicals have been detected across the country and linked to adverse health risks – but we still do not know how persistent they are and what the long-term effects are. My bill requires federal agencies with PFAS expertise to work with the National Academies of Science to answer fundamental questions about PFAS – our level of exposure and the toxicity – as well as to develop a federal research and development plan to address these risks. I am glad to work with Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Congressman Bill Posey on this bill.
I also worked with my colleagues on other important amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the House of Representatives will consider this week. This is the annual legislation that authorizes appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense (DOD) programs and activities, including military personnel strengths. I also co-sponsored the RISE Act to ensure federally supported university research can be completed despite COVID-19 disruptions.
As usual, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit this week with constituents across the district and to speak with several groups, including BBYO Texas and the West U Rotary Club.
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