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Home | Tag Archives: rep will hurd

Tag Archives: rep will hurd

Hurd on the Hill: A Missing Smithsonian – The Museum of the American Latino

To fully understand American history, we have to understand all our history, which must include the contribution of the American Latino.

The National Mall, America’s front yard, features museums about core pieces of America’s history, ranging from Natural History, Air and Space, Art, the American Indian and African American History and Culture. Half of all Americans will visit the National Mall in their lifetime, but, if they were to visit today, there would be a huge gaping hole in the portfolio of Smithsonian museums. The Museum of the American Latino is missing.

The legacy of David Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay is a part of our history that many people don’t know enough about. The Battle of Mobile Bay—a battle of the Civil War—is where the Union won a decisive victory, capturing the last Confederate controlled port along the Gulf of Mexico. David Farragut—a Latino—was America’s first Admiral and led the naval forces for the Union during the Civil War. It was at this battle Farragut became famous for his inspirational line, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Farragut is one of the great leaders to have contributed to the success of our nation. After all he did to fight and bleed for our freedom. We owe it to him to honor his name within a National Museum of the American Latino. Unfortunately, Farragut’s legacy is only one among a plethora of American Latinos whose contribution to the very fabric of our nation is not represented on the National Mall. The U.S. is stronger because of the past, present and future contributions Latinos have made across our communities, and we owe it to them and their families to honor their names and stories.

Almost 59 million Latino Americans call our nation home, and, estimates show by 2060, one out of every four people in the U.S. will be of Latino heritage. Yet, in spite of their essential relevance to our country’s intellectual, economic and cultural life, a task force commissioned in 1994 by the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution found that “U.S. Hispanics are the only major contributor to American civilization still uncelebrated by any specific, systemic, permanent effort in this country’s major cultural institution.”

Congress, in an effort to concretize the story of the American Latino into our Smithsonian Institutions, passed the National Museum of the American Latino Act with overwhelming bipartisan support just last month. My colleagues, Reps. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), and I have been working to pass this bill for years. The bill—once it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President—calls for the creation of a board of trustees responsible for finding a location, developing a long-term plan for construction and advising the Smithsonian Board of Regents. The bill would also ensure Latino collections, art, research and publications are added to Smithsonian museums, research centers and other educational institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad.

After 26 years, because of House passage of this bill, we are one step closer to honoring the many Latino Americans who have shaped our nation’s history. We are one step closer to giving Latino Americans the appreciation they deserve. But the fight is not over. We still have more steps to go, including passage through the U.S. Senate.

My friend and fellow Texan, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), is a strong supporter of this museum. I’m confident with his support we will get this done. But we’re still going to need the help of all of you to get this across the finish line. I encourage you to call your Senators and urge them to pass this bill. Together we can make sure the Smithsonian Institution no longer has a major missing piece.

Building the National Museum of the American Latino is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. It’s an American issue transcending all of us, and it will allow future generations of Americans from sea to shining sea to learn from our past, appreciate the progress made today and work together to create a stronger future.

It’s an incredible honor during my final term in office to lead the House effort to make the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino a reality.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at news@epheraldpost.com

Hurd on the Hill: Preserving America’s National Parks, Public Lands

Up until I was 20 years old, the only thing that came to my mind when I thought of nature was a painful jellyfish sting I received  as a kid during my family’s only summer vacation. It was our first time heading to the beach.

Needless to say, I stayed away from the ocean for some time after that experience. It wasn’t until I was 20 years old—when I went white-water rafting in Colorado—that my appreciation for nature changed.

Sadly, I didn’t come to understand the true meaning of “nature” until decades later when I became the Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. I didn’t know I would come to represent eight unique, beautiful national parks and historic sites.

800,000 acres, peaks up to nearly 8,000 feet high, canyons and rivers spanning miles, nearly 1,300 plant species, 75 animal species, 450 birds, 3,600 insects, 56 reptiles and the vast Chihuahuan dessert. This is what I have been fighting to protect since becoming your congressman.

These numbers alone don’t quantify the impact a park like Big Bend has on the millions of visitors who have made their way to West Texas for three quarters of a century. To describe Big Bend as just a park doesn’t do it justice. It’s a natural wonder, and it must remain beautiful and accessible for future generations and beyond—that’s just one piece of it. From the historic San Antonio Missions, all the way to the breathtaking Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas, preserving national parks is personal, and it’s not just personal to me.

This month, my colleagues and I came together in a bipartisan manner to advocate for our parks and historic sites by passing the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will address backlogged park repairs and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

To put this into perspective, in 2017 alone, national parks in Texas faced $167 million in backlogged maintenance projects, including road repairs, visitor facilities, leaking plumbing and other park structures.

Over $100 million of this backlog was from Big Bend, with another $7 million from Amistad, $6.4 million from Guadalupe Mountains National Park, $2.8 million from Fort Davis National Historic Site and $6.9 million from the San Antonio Missions. While Congress has taken measures to chip away at this mountain of projects, passing the Great American Outdoors Act is a critical step towards permanently addressing these overdue backlogs while ensuring our national parks are protected long into the future beyond this year and the next.

The Great American Outdoors Act provides $900 million in funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund each year and invests $1.9 billion for the next five years in deferred maintenance projects administered by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education. This bill would also require the Government Accountability Office to report on the financial progress of the deferred maintenance projects for each specified agency.

America’s national parks and public lands are an integral part of our country’s history, and we have a duty to preserve their natural beauty and resources. The best way we can care for them is to ensure they are around long enough to inspire others for years to come. As a national park enthusiast and co-Chair of the National Park Caucus, I am committed to protecting and conserving these American jewels.

With the bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act last week, we have prioritized the future of our national parks. These parks are more than just a destination, they are magnificent places that represent our culture, our history and our future.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at news@epheraldpost.com

Hurd Calls for Independent Investigation Surrounding Guillen Death

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) joined several colleagues Monday in calling for the Department of Defense Inspector General’s Office to conduct an independent investigation into Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and murder. 

“Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance should have been investigated as soon as she went missing,” said Hurd. “We need to ensure our military service members know there are procedures in place to protect them while on base and if they experience any type of harassment while in service to our country.

“The U.S. military has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the young women and men who take an oath to defend our nation. Vanessa Guillen and her family deserve justice. They deserve answers. And, all military families deserve better. My heart aches for the family of Spc. Vanessa Guillen during this difficult time.”

The letter is below:

Sean O’Donnell
Acting Inspector General
Department of Defense Office of Inspector General
4800 Mark Center Drive
Alexandria, VA 22350-1500

Dear Acting Inspector General O’Donnell:

We are deeply disturbed by recent developments in the case of Specialist (SPC) Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and murder. We strongly support Rep. Jackie Speier and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s call for the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General’s Office to conduct a full and independent investigation into SPC Guillen’s disappearance and murder.

Before her disappearance and murder, SPC Guillen confided in her family that she felt unsafe in Fort Hood due to experiences with sexual harassment, which she did not report out of fear for her personal safety. The U.S. military has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the young women and men that take an oath to defend our country. In SPC Guillen’s case, she was tragically failed by the Army.

In response to this case, current and former Latina servicemembers have demonstrated incredible bravery in sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and assault in the military.

Their stories reinforce a troubling reality revealed in the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2019 report on sexual assault in the military, which reported a 3% increase in the number of sexual assault cases compared to 2018. This epidemic of sexual violence disproportionately impacts women of color, who are also less likely to report their sexual harassment or assault out of fear of retaliation. This is deeply concerning given that the ranks of the United States military have become more diverse over time. Latinos are the fastest growing population in the military, accounting for up to 16% of all active-duty military.

Yet, we are hopeful that a full and independent investigation by the DoD Inspector General’s Office will begin to provide the Guillen family with the answers and justice they seek.

We look forward to your prompt response to this letter.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Hurd on the Hill: Making our streets and communities safer for all

From San Antonio to Del Rio, from Marfa to El Paso and many places in between, our communities have shown the outrage we feel about another black man dying in police custody.

I too felt the need to take action, and, while marching in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and sixty thousand others, I realized that not everything has to be a binary choice. The fact is, you can be outraged by a black man getting murdered in police custody, thankful that law enforcement put themselves in harm’s way to protect our First Amendment rights and angry that criminals are looting and rioting—actions at conflict with our American values. We can feel all these emotions at the same time.

During the march, I witnessed more than just the African American community is committed to dismantling a culture where a black man is twice as likely to die in police custody as a white man.

This culture is the same culture that has caused so many young black men to receive a talk from their father about what to do when pulled over by a police officer. I know this talk, and I remember receiving it from my dad when I was fifteen years old. My Dad told me if I was pulled over by the police, to turn on the light in the car, roll down my window and place my hands on the window seal so the police could see my hands. He further instructed me to not make any movement unless I tell the police officer and received consent.

It’s been almost 30 years since I was given this lessen by my dad, but this lesson is still being taught by fathers and mothers today who fear that the wrong move when pulled over could cost their child his or her life. No parent should have to teach this lesson, and no kid should have to receive it, but, until we change the culture, this lesson will be taught.

There is a role for both political parties, both chambers of congress and all branches of government to address this. We must work together. Three key things that could help would be: ensuring federal funding only goes to departments following best policing practices; strengthening a police chief’s power to fire bad officers from their force; and bolstering a civilian’s ability to hold law enforcement accountable in court when they step outside the law.

A wave of cries to defund the police have swept over the country in recent weeks, but this is not the answer. In fact, this would make our communities even less safe.

If we are going to solve the problems besetting our nation right now, we have to have a collective and level-headed conversation. In the coming weeks and months, I hope this is the case because now is the time for action. Our actions won’t bring back George Floyd or other lives that were tragically cut short, but they will provide our country with the tools to prevent another injustice. Whether your skin is black, or your uniform is blue, individuals should not feel targeted in this country.

Everyone should feel safe walking the streets of our communities.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Rep. Hurd announces additional $18M for San Antonio, El Paso, Bexar County to help vulnerable populations

SAN ANTONIO – Tuesday morning, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) announced that more than $18 million will be distributed across the cities of San Antonio and El Paso and Bexar County to further address COVID-19 among vulnerable populations. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic affects all Americans regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. The more than $18 million in resources from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow our localities to continue combating the spread of COVID-19 among some of our most vulnerable populations,” said Hurd.

“When we passed the CARES Act with bipartisan support, my colleagues and I knew it was not the full answer to combating the pandemic, but that it would ensure Americans had more resources to make it through. This funding will allow Bexar County and the cities of San Antonio and El Paso to continue response and recovery efforts.”

The following allocations were made to the Cities of San Antonio, El Paso and Bexar County:

  • San Antonio, TX – $12,950,577
  • El Paso, TX – $3,964,248
  • Bexar County – $1,859,901

These funds are Emergency Service Grants (ESG) made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grants will be used to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic among individuals and families who are homeless or receiving homeless assistance.

The funds will also support additional homeless assistance and homelessness prevention activities to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. These funds are the result of the CARES Act.

Hurd on the Hill: Why were our seniors left vulnerable?

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread from outside our borders into the contiguous United States, there was a lot of uncertainty about the characteristics of the virus. After studying trends from other countries who were largely hit with the virus before we were, it was clear that, like many other viral diseases, COVID-19 disproportionately affects our senior citizens.

This was evident during the early weeks of the pandemic outbreak in the U.S., as one of the first epicenters of the pandemic developed in Kirkland, Washington at a nursing home. This would not be the only outbreak at one of these facilities, and as the pandemic progressed we discovered that nursing homes and long-term care facilities were ill-equipped to keep their residents safe from what’s been called the “silent enemy.” Unfortunately, this was even the case in our district.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), provide quality ratings for each of the nation’s approximately 16,000 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes. Each facility is rated from a low of one star to a high of five stars based on three critical areas: health inspection results, quality measures and staffing levels. An overall rating is also provided after consideration of five areas: fire safety, health inspection, quality measures, staffing and penalties.

There are 99 nursing homes or long-term care facilities within 50 miles of San Antonio, and last year only 3 were given a 5-star rating by CMS. This reality is not just in Texas either. A report publicly released by the Government Accountability Office in June of last year showed a rise in abuse at nursing home facilities. From 2013 to 2017, abuse citations doubled.

Staggering statistics like these depict a significant deficiency in a sector of our health care system and are what led to the many COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities. In several states, like Massachusetts, more than half of those who have died from the virus were residents in nursing or long-term care homes. In San Antonio, there have been COVID-19 outbreaks in at least 5 nursing homes that have infected residents and staff, including Southeast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where an outbreak killed 19 people.

These stories led Congress to take action, by appropriating $200 million in the CARES Act to specifically aid these facilities to get a handle on the outbreaks. It also led many state executives, including Texas’ governor, to order the testing of all nursing home residents and staff.

When families make the difficult decision to put their loved one into a long-term care facility, they should only worry about when they will be able visit them, not their level of care or whether they will be safe from a pandemic.

As we begin to climb out of this pandemic, we must think about advancement not just recovery. We have to come out of this better than before, not just get back to where we were. This includes doing an analysis on what went wrong at nursing homes and what needs to be done moving forward to prevent from this from happening again. It’s not a matter of if another pandemic will happen, but when. Our nursing and long-term care homes must be better prepared.

This Congress, I signed onto H.R. 647, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act. This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to take actions to improve palliative and hospice care training of health professionals. While this is one thing to be done, it is not going to fix the whole problem. We have to do more and get serious about taking care of our elderly.

COVID-19 didn’t start in a nursing home, it was brought in. There need to be updates to standards of care such as cleanliness, because it is what prevents disease spread amongst an already incredibly at-risk population. Currently, surveys are conducted every year by state surveyors, but there are plans to decrease surveys to every 2 years. If the conditions we have now are based on yearly surveys, imagine what happens when the system changes to biannual. These are the things we have to address.

Our moms, dads and grandparents took care of us for most of our lives, and now it’s our turn to take care of them.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Hurd on the Hill: A message to the Class of 2020

This time of year is always filled with excitement and celebration because we take the time to reflect on graduates from high school, technical school, trade schools, community colleges, universities and other types of educational institutions.

While our celebrating will feel different than usual, that cannot and will not put a damper on the incredible achievements of each of you—each of our incredible graduates.

Normally I would be with some of you at your commencement ceremony talking with your families, hearing about your accomplishments, shaking hands and hearing about your future plans. But, because I can’t physically be there, I wanted to let you all know that I am incredibly proud of the achievements of this class.

The achievements of the Class of 2020 are different than my own class and that of all those before us because you succeeded in a completely unexpected way. You have rolled with the punches. You have overcome the difficulties of a pandemic and achieved your academic goals. Knowing this class is joining our workforce or our higher education institutions helps ease a lot of worries I have about the future.

I know many of you feel robbed because of how this year is ending, but I want you to know that even though you didn’t get to walk across that stage, we are all still here celebrating your accomplishments. We are clapping for you and eagerly waiting to see what you will achieve next.

And, for those of you who are worried about what the future brings, don’t fret. We’ve all had that moment of worry, and it is a moment you will encounter more than once in your life. That moment wondering what to do next. When I lost my first election for Congress, I had no plan B. The loss was tough and figuring out what to do next was trying. I literally talked to 75 people to get advice, and that 75th person was one of my best friend’s father. He told me he did not know what I should do, just that the next thing need to be something “meaningful and hard” and it would all work out in the end. At first, I thought it was bad advice, but I realized all I had done in life up to that point had revolved around doing something meaningful and hard. It ended up being what encouraged me to run for Congress again.

So, that’s what I want those of you who feel uncertain to do. Go after something that is meaningful, and something that is hard because when you do you better yourself. You will often suffer defeat through this, and, even better, you will eventually taste victory. Let me tell you, the sweet taste of victory makes up for every defeat and every bitter moment of disappointment.

As our nation begins to come out of the dark tunnel we have been in for the last few months, there is still some uncertainty about what is next. When will life return to normal? Will life look different once we return to some type of normalcy? Will we have to reinstate stay-at-home procedures in the future?

When you reach the end of a significant journey in your life, many will ask your thoughts on the future, and what concerns you might have. It’s happened to me as I decide to leave Congress and pursue other avenues to serve our great nation. When asked this, it is important to contemplate from the journey you have just been on and do not be afraid to seek advice.

One thing I can tell you for sure though, if you were to ask me to make a list on what my concerns are for the future, the Class of 2020 would not be on it. Over the past weeks and months, these individuals have faced uncertainty and adversity, but they have confronted it head-on. They rose to the challenge this unusual time faced them with, and it shows the character and abilities they have acquired over their years in school.

I hope the Class of 2020 will take the same character and abilities into whatever is next for them in life. Because if they do, there is no doubt our country will be better off for it.

God bless all of this year’s graduates, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Hurd on the Hill: Libraries: Fighting Misinformation and Educating American Families

The power of a library is immeasurable because it is not just a repository of books but an access point to new ideas and sources of inspiration.

While National Library Week was in April and it is now May, the incredible importance of libraries is something that extends beyond one commemorative week. We should appreciate and advocate for libraries each and every day.

Even in this time of social-distancing when we cannot physically go to a library, the resources available to us are still open because a library is more than a means to borrow books—it’s a well-rounded educational tool.

When I was young, I worked in a library. Like many kids, I learned the Dewey Decimal System: How to use it, read it and ultimately track down the books I wanted to borrow. I viewed the library as a resource to find fun books to read. But I also remember the librarians who taught me how to effectively search for information.

The ability to search for information effectively and ensure it is credible is something I still use today. This power, to identify credible information, is something that we must ensure every kid has because misinformation is not only harmful, it’s dangerous.

According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans today get their news from social media. Consequently, increased reliance on online media makes us more susceptible to bad actors who spread disinformation. For many Americans, the 2016 election was their first real experience with the potential impacts of widespread disinformation campaigns, but it will not be their last.

Part of participating in a democracy is doing your best to stay informed. Yet, an important element of that practice is confirming we are being informed by accurate information. We need to be able to identify how the information we are absorbing may be biased or altogether incorrect. That is where libraries come in.

The American Library Association defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information.”

Today, libraries provide their patrons with a multitude of unique resources that spread awareness and train individuals to use online resources and identify disinformation, whether it be through a K-12 school, university or public library.

For example, the Public Library Association (PLA) provides digital literacy resources from self-directed tutorials through DigitalLearn.

Additionally, the PLA is expanding technology access in rural communities through DigitalLead. Librarians are also focused on teaching students how to use search tools like Google most effectively and how to identify trustworthy sources versus biased information from an early age.

This is simply not enough. There needs to be a broader cultural movement on digital literacy that starts in elementary school. We all know not to get in a car with a stranger (unless it’s an Uber or Lyft driver), but why would we share information from someone we know nothing about? A digitally literate population is the best defense against future disinformation campaigns from our adversaries around the world.

If you are looking for proof that these ideas matter, look no further than the coronavirus pandemic that has affected the lives of every world citizen.

The governments of China, Russia and Iran have sought to create harmful, coordinated disinformation campaigns. The reason they did so is likely to distract their own people from their failures to address the crisis, and, sadly, their campaign could make American families and kids fall victim to false or dangerous information. This is why it is so critical we learn and teach our kids how to assess information, where it came from and if it’s true.

I have been a firm advocate for libraries throughout my time in Congress and was proud to be part of leading the bipartisan effort in the House to pass the Museum and Library Services Act of 2018.

This bill, which was signed into law on December 31, 2018, reauthorized programs administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for six years. It included annual library grants, which provided Texas public libraries with nearly $11 million in federal assistance annually.

Although the coronavirus pandemic prevents us from physically going to our local libraries, nothing can stop us from learning from them. Visit your local library’s website and take advantage of their incredible resources. This can help us fight the misinformation campaigns that are part of our world today and will be in the future.

Afterall, today, we are really fighting two pandemics: the coronavirus and the misinformation campaigns from bad actors. Both battles require collective responsibility and collaboration from all Americans. We can and will win both fights.

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A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, review the guidelines here and the submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Hurd on the Hill: Completing the Census for the Benefit of our Texas Communities

The start of a new decade means it’s time for the U.S. Census. Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a constitutionally mandated population count of our nation’s residents.

Making sure that everyone is counted is of the utmost importance to the functioning of our democracy. These decennial population counts are used to determine how federal funds are distributed to states and how states are represented in our government.

We all want an accurate and complete count, but there are obstacles that we must overcome together to get there. In past Census counts, South and West Texas have had some of the lowest self-response rates in the country. Approximately 25 percent of the current population of our state lives in “hard-to-count” areas, which is often the case for rural and minority communities.

Ahead of the 2020 Census, there has also been increased confusion and distrust surrounding the way that information gained from the Census will be used. The Urban Institute estimates that nearly one-third of adults are extremely or very concerned about how their information will be used, and that number is over 40 percent among Hispanic adults and adults in immigrant families.

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow a citizenship question to be on the Census, many Americans are still fearful that the information they provide will be used to target them. Rest assured, there will be no citizenship question on the Census. It is essential that we all participate.

The stakes are high, especially for the people of Texas. Since the 2010 Census, Texas has gained over 3.5 million residents and has the potential to acquire at least two additional seats in Congress after 2020 if everyone is counted. However, an undercount of even just 1% of the Texas population could result in the loss of $300 million in federal funding each year.

Along with federal resources that go towards local schools, hospitals and roads, community organizations will also use census information to develop social service programs, community projects and childcare centers.

The benefits of participation are apparent, and the costs are nonexistent. There is no reason to fear participating in the Census count. Completing the Census questionnaire only takes a few minutes and can have a significant impact on the future of our state. You can fill it out over the phone or by mail, and for the first time ever you also have the option to fill it out online this year at www.census.gov.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, initial invitations to respond online and by phone will be delivered on or between March 12-20 by the U.S. Postal Service.

If we don’t get an accurate count this time around, we have to go 10 years before we can get it right. For many parts of Texas, that may be too long to wait.

This spring, securing our future through an accurate Census count will be a collective effort. Remind your friends and neighbors to do their civic duty and participate. This is a chance for all of us to work together to help each other, our local communities, and the great state of Texas.

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Author: Rep. Will Hurd

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Op-Ed: Hurd on the Hill – Ending Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery

This January marks a historic event—the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). This bipartisan law established a framework to combat human trafficking across the globe. Unfortunately, although this law made major strides to combat human trafficking, this form of modern-day slavery is still pervasive around the world.

Slavery is generally believed to be a thing of the past, but the truth is human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery—an awful crime that happens all too often and affects far too many. In the 2019 annual Trafficking in Persons Report mandated by TVPA, the State Department concluded that 24.9 million people across the globe are trapped in the multibillion-dollar modern slave industry—roughly three times the population of New York City.

Many use the terms “human smuggling” and “human trafficking” interchangeably, but they’re different. Human smuggling involves covertly bringing individuals into a country to avoid immigration laws, whereas human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to perform an act. Human trafficking is typically broken into two categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. While sex trafficking relates to a person who is forced to engage in a commercial sex act, labor trafficking is when a person is subjected to involuntary servitude, debt bondage or slavery.

Don’t be fooled thinking there’s no way something like this happens in our country. Human trafficking occurs in the United States every day in the form of commercial sex trade, domestic servitude and forced labor.

In 2018, the United States, along with Mexico and the Philippines, were ranked as the world’s top places of origin for human trafficking. A joint study by the University of Texas at Austin and Allies Against Slavery showed that traffickers exploit approximately $600 million from victims in the Lone Star State every year.

Human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations, profiting off the suffering of innocent men, women, and young children. Human trafficking rings threaten the security and safety of our communities, nation and the world, and when it comes to stopping these dangerous predators, everyone can help.

These astonishing statistics reveal the sad reality that the battle has not yet been won, but that does not mean we give up fighting to end this problem. My first year in Congress, I was proud to support the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which has helped law enforcement take down more traffickers. Just a few months ago, a measure I introduced making human trafficking, human smuggling, and drug trafficking in the Northern Triangle and Mexico a national intelligence priority was signed into law.

In 2010, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created their Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking by educating the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking. Just this past week, DHS announced a partnership with American Airlines, which is headquartered right here in Texas.

The airline company is joining with DHS to provide human trafficking awareness training to their more than 60,000 employees, including flight attendants, pilots and customer service team members. This partnership is an invaluable opportunity to educate the public about the crime of human trafficking and is a prime example that we all have a part to play in ending modern-day slavery.

Efforts are also being made to combat human trafficking right here in South and West Texas. City leaders in San Antonio recently held a news conference focusing on ways to identify and empower victims, and the San Antonio Police Department has organized events and posted information to their website raising awareness around the issue. Across Southeast Texas, billboards were put up as part of the #CanYouSeeMe campaign aimed at bringing awareness to trafficking and child exploitation.

There’s something we all can do to prevent human trafficking. January is National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month, so I encourage you to learn more about the signs of human trafficking by visiting dhs.gov/bluecampaign. And if you think you know someone who might be a victim of human trafficking, you can call the Human Trafficking Hotline – 1-888-373-7888.

*** 

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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Op-Ed: Hurd on the Hill – Iran is not a victim

Over the past week, you may have seen news coverage of the death of Qassem Soleimani and escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

The events that have unfolded over the last few weeks have made it even clearer that the Iranian regime and its proxies are the responsible parties for the escalation of tensions between our two countries. Iran is not a victim here; they are the culprits.

Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was the head of the most dangerous and well-armed terrorist organization in the world, and his death has removed a major terrorist leader from the battlefield. Taking him out was an appropriate response after all the hostile acts the Iranian government and its proxies have committed against the United States, including rocket attacks on American troops and an attempt to storm our embassy in Baghdad.

There was also clear intelligence showing that Soleimani was planning attacks against the United States in the coming days. Although this intelligence must remain classified as it deals with ongoing intelligence efforts, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said the intelligence was compelling, imminent and very clear in scale and scope.

As an undercover CIA officer for nearly a decade who served in the Middle East, I know that the men and women of our intelligence community are diligent, and I trust their assessment of ongoing threats in the region.

During the Iraq War, Soleimani oversaw three camps in Iran where the groups he controlled trained and equipped proxy militias to attack U.S. military forces. These extremist fighters have killed more than 600 American soldiers.

Within Iran, Soleimani and his colleagues worked with the Ayatollah to suppress freedom and economic opportunity, imprison those who speak out against the government, and kill innocent protesters in their own streets.

For those who are questioning the decision to kill Soleimani, I would ask: What is the alternative? Do nothing and fail to protect American lives and our shared interests with our Sunni Arab and Israeli partners? Let our embassy get attacked once more? Open our troops up to further attacks? To not support the Iranian people in their quest for freedom?

We also know well that although killing Soleimani was the right move, the Iranian regime’s reign of terror is not over. The Iranian government has made clear it is not a rational government that can come to the negotiating table, join the international community and benefit from peaceful relations.

Iran is still the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. The Iranian regime for decades has purposefully antagonized and attacked the U.S. and our allies. On top of their attacks on other nations they have even attacked their own people. Just last month the Iranian government killed 1,500 of its own citizens who were peacefully protesting unarmed. They’ve also lied about their nuclear arsenal and benefitted monetarily from it.

While some are claiming the decision to remove Soleimani has made us less safe, the reality is quite the opposite. Taking Qassem Soleimani out of play was the right decision, and our South and West Texas communities, America, and the rest of the world are safer for it.

***

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Hurd on the Hill: Protecting Free Trade with Mexico and Canada

The U.S. House has done its job: The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been passed and is on its way to the U.S. Senate.

Those of us who live and work in South and West Texas know well that the United States and Mexico share a very special economic relationship.

We count on cross-border commerce to serve as an economic engine across local communities. Our neighbors export goods and services or rely on imports to perfect and market to American consumers. And American companies are building in Mexico and creating jobs on both sides of the border. This system is not without its challenges – but it works.

USMCA gets a lot right. It improves the enforcement mechanism for all aspects of the agreement so that American workers and American innovation can be protected. This may seem like legal talk, but when American workers are undercut by foreign actors, we all know it’s the Americans who end up out of work.

Free trade with Mexico and Canada impacts just about every aspect of our lives, from the food on our tables and the clothes on our backs to the fuel in our cars. The United States, Mexico and Canada build things together, and this landmark trade deal makes sure that we continue our important trilateral relationship built from NAFTA into the 21st Century and beyond.

We also live in a world where our nation’s military and economic dominance is no longer guaranteed, and the USMCA is vital for us to maintain our quality of life as we know it. This trade agreement will allow continued economic prosperity and North American competitiveness as China tries to replace the United States as the most important economy in the world. The USMCA also helps us continue to lead the way in advanced technology by modernizing NAFTA to account for technological change over the last quarter century.

The agreement also includes recapitalization of the North American Development Bank, or NADBank, which helps fund local infrastructure projects in border communities. We on the border know the specific efforts it takes to keep region thriving.  Our land and its perseveration are their own currency and I am pleased NADBank is expressly a priority in the agreement.

While this month’s passage is a huge win for American workers, we must make sure that we are not at this same position 25 years from now. Let’s learn from the mistakes of NAFTA and address emerging problems in real-time. The technological change in the next quarter century will make the changes over the last quarter century insignificant, and we need our friends in Mexico and Canada to be prepared for this global disruption.

I am pleased to highlight these key statistics. Among other benefits, the USMCA will provide:

  • Estimated investments of over $68 billion in new economic activity;
  • 176,000 new jobs in America;
  • Estimated investment of $34 billion in new auto plants; and,
  •   76,000 new American automotive sector jobs.

This measure took entirely too long to come up for a vote. We cannot allow major, bipartisan measures like this to get caught up in political games.  I’m glad it’s done and I am proud USMCA will deliver for Texas.  Now it’s time for the Senate to deliver the measure to the President’s desk.

***

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Hurd on the Hill: Stopping Drug Cartels and Human Smugglers

There’s no question that our South and West Texas communities are bearing the brunt of the immigration crisis. When crisscrossing the 23rd District of Texas I consistently hear that folks I represent are concerned about the influx of migrants and subsequent releases by the Customs and Border Protection.

It doesn’t help that while the hardworking men and women of our Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Health and Human Services and others on the front lines of the border crisis are working overtime to do their jobs, dangerous drug cartels and human smugglers are benefiting from the crisis.

They operate vast networks that transcend our nation, Mexico and Central America and bring in $29 billion each year – more than Starbucks ($24.71 billion) and McDonalds ($22.9 billion). All while innocent lives suffer.

The root causes of our border crisis are violence, extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunity in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – together known as the Northern Triangle. When these people decide to make the perilous, over 1,500-mile-long journey to the United States, they often need the help of these vast networks to make it happen. These smugglers earn nearly $2.3 billion in revenue each year.

They’re making the crisis worse by transporting people into our country illegally, while putting innocent lives at risk in the process.

We must make dismantling the infrastructure created by these human smugglers a national security priority. In June, 104,000 people were detained at our border. Almost every one of them had a phone number of a smuggler, a license plate of a bus that brought them here or a pickup location in their home country. We should be collecting this information and then use it to stop future operations.

Understanding and disabling these smuggling and trafficking networks should be a national intelligence priority.

These individuals threaten the security of the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere, and when it comes to stopping this crisis we need all hands on deck. This should include the men and women of our intelligence community. We must make sure that they maximize the use of their intelligence capabilities to disrupt and dismantle these dangerous operations.

Understanding these networks must be a national intelligence priority, and I’m proud that my bipartisan effort to make this a reality was passed out of the House last week.

I was proud to join fellow former CIA officer Representative Abigail Spanberger from Virginia in a bipartisan effort to make sure that stopping these bad actors is a national priority of the intelligence community. Solving our immigration crisis is always going to be a multi-front effort.

Ensuring facilities like Carrizo Springs and Clint are well-equipped while also knocking down the trails left by human smugglers are two of those fronts I’ve taken action on recently. I’ll continue to do all that I can to fight for the South and West Texas communities that are bearing the brunt of this crisis.

***

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

 

Rep. Hurd addresses situation at Clint Border Patrol Station; CBP returns 100 children to facility

Republican Representative William Hurd addressed members of the Texas press Tuesday morning, placing blame for the situation at the Clint Border Patrol Station on his “friends on the other side of the aisle.”

Last week, Human Rights Watch lawyers found 255 children in deplorable conditions at the Clint Border Patrol Station outside of El Paso. 59 children were under the age of 12.

Representative Veronica Escobar, echoing the outrage and confusion of so many, posed the question, “Who will be held accountable for these atrocities?”

Hurd, who represents the 23rd district of Texas where the Clint Station sits, hasn’t personally visited the location – although members of his staff have.

He pointed out that the facility is “in essence no different than many of the other facilities on the border,” designed to hold a handful of people for a handful of hours, not hundreds of people for multiple days.

Hurd agreed that the Clint facility was over capacity, with not enough staff on hand. However, according to Hurd, there was baby formula and diapers on hand, as well as snacks and three meals a day.

The AP reported “inadequate food, water and sanitation” at Clint.

Escobar called the treatment of children at Clint “humanitarian abuses.” She has repeatedly called on Trump to take responsibility for the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, recently tweeting:

Hurd, who is pushing Congress for a supplemental bill of 60 million to support border communities, said Tuesday that without Democrats placing additional funds with ICE or HHS, these issues will not be resolved.

“The reasons that you have problems with a facility that was not designed to do detention is because HHS (Health and Human Services) doesn’t have the capacity to take on additional kids. Clint and most facilities were not a detention facility – that is the broader problem,” said Hurd.

Additionally, Hurd pushed for faster deportations to keep holding centers from becoming overcrowded; stating, “people should be being deported within 21 days.”

As for the Clint station, Tuesday morning, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official shared that roughly 100 children were sent back to the Clint Border Patrol Station.

The official justified the action saying the initial movement of minors cleared the earlier reported overcrowding.   The official echoed a similar sentiment as Hurd, mentioning unlimited snacks as proof of fine conditions.

Meanwhile, the confusion on the border continues.

Military-style tents at the West Texas Detention Center in Sierra Blanca and the Ysleta Border Patrol Station in El Paso house migrants.

It is unclear to those questioning the conditions of these tents who is being housed where – especially as the MPP (Remain in Mexico) program continues to send more and more individuals back to Mexico.

Author/Photographer: Jordyn Rozensky – El Paso Herald Post

Op-Ed: Hurd on the Hill – Standing with Israel Against Terrorism

Sirens blaring loudly in the distance. Bright streaks of light in the sky. Deadly explosions seconds later. This is not a scene from a war movie. These are the sights and sounds in Israel today in 2019.

On the weekend of May 4th, Hamas and other terrorist groups fired more than 600 rockets into Israel from the Gaza strip. Their aim is to kill innocent civilians and sow chaos. But the Israelis have remained strong, and I am proud to stand behind our greatest ally in the Middle East.

I have made multiple trips to Israel and seen firsthand the threats they face every day. One of the most interesting places I visited was an Iron Dome facility in Southern Israel. Iron Dome is a missile defense system developed by the Israelis that has shot down thousands of rockets that might otherwise have landed in urban areas.

The system is so effective that is has an almost 90% success rate at stopping incoming rockets. That’s why the U.S. has provided significant security assistance to Israel to deploy more Iron Dome batteries. In the last two years, I have voted for $162 million in funding for this critical system that is protecting innocent lives every day in Israel.

I also remain committed to containing the aggressive ambitions of the Iranian regime. Make no mistake – the current regime in Tehran represents an existential threat to the State of Israel.

As a state sponsor of terror for decades, Iran has provided Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups targeting Israel with weapons, rockets and financial support that has been used to attack innocent civilians and destabilize the region.

I strongly support the Administration’s decision to withdraw from President Obama’s flawed nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose tough sanctions on the regime. Until the Iranian government stops backing terrorist groups, we cannot waver in our resolve to support Israel and our allies in the region against this malign regime.

The threats facing Israel’s security, however, go beyond violence in the region. Israel also faces a coordinated campaign to exclude the its people from the economic and cultural life of the rest of the world.

The Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel and isolate it from the community of nations by targeting both Israeli and foreign companies and institutions, solely because of their association with Israel.

The United States is a critical partner in a violent and turbulent region and must stand with Israel against this global movement, which is why I have joined my colleagues in supporting legislation that condemns the BDS movement and gives state and local governments new tools to fight back against these groups.

In the dangerous world facing the United States abroad, it is more important than ever that we support our friends and allies. Amid rocket attacks from terrorist groups, the threat posed by Iran and rising antisemitism around the world, the United States should continue to stand side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in Israel.

As your Representative, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure we do just that.

***

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

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