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Hurd on the Hill: Helping Women-Owned Businesses Thrive

WASHINGTON, DC – Women entrepreneurs make up a growing portion of our economy. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States increased five times over the last decade. Their presence is all the more evident in our backyard, as Texas is home to more than 890,000 women-owned businesses, the second most in the entire nation.

Our great state is also ranked first for the “economic clout” of women-owned businesses, which means that women-owned companies in Texas grow more quickly in volume, in employment and in revenues than those anywhere else. There is no question that Texas is a pretty great place to start a business.

At the same time, our female entrepreneurs overcome additional obstacles that their male counterparts don’t face, including accessing capital. For example, according to the National Women’s Business Council, men tend to start their businesses with nearly twice as much financial capital than women.

They have historically received loans with less favorable terms, and obtain less than five percent of both government funding for small businesses and all venture capital funding.

While we should work to expand access to capital for female entrepreneurs, we should also increase awareness of incubators, workshops and other ways for businesswomen to grow their companies. Since March is Women’s History Month, I’d like to spotlight a few resources available to ensure the growth and success of women-owned businesses, available here in the 23rd District of Texas.

A primary resource for all small businesses is the Small Business Administration (SBA) which works with lenders to provide loans for entrepreneurs to kick off operations. The SBA reduces risk for lenders and increases access for small business owners by setting guidelines for various lending partners such as community development organizations and micro-lending organizations.

The SBA also serves as a centralized hub for training, government bidding, and other small business resources, including those specific to women entrepreneurs. There are offices throughout Texas, including in San Antonio and El Paso.

Another great option for funding and counseling resources are business accelerators. One such option is Alice, which has resources across TX-23 and was founded to integrate more women into the startup ecosystem. Whether you’re starting a company, growing your business, or investing in other businesses, Alice supports the entrepreneurial community by connecting folks with networking opportunities and more.

In fact, my office recently helped Alice organize an event in San Antonio to connect entrepreneurs with the knowledge and resources necessary to build their businesses.

This event was held at the Maestro Entrepreneur Center, which was created in partnership with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Leadership Development Foundation to accelerate the development of small, minority, women, and veteran owned businesses in the San Antonio area.  The Maestro Center provides businesses with individualized growth plans and matches entrepreneurs with an experienced business owner mentor.

One more resource is the Southwest Texas Border Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network which provides counseling services for all aspects of starting a business, from loan assistance and tax planning to marketing and sales. They have a strong presence across TX-23.

The SBDC at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) serves the greater San Antonio area, the SBDC at Sul Ross State University serves the Alpine community and the SBDC at Sul Ross State University – Rio Grande College has locations in Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Uvalde and Carrizo Springs. The SBDC at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is available for folks in Socorro and across the El Paso area. You can find out more at txsbdc.org.

Think of a small business owner you know. Small businesses aren’t just products and services. Rather, they are real people with big dreams who work hard to grow their business and provide for their families each day. And, as women continue to make history, it’s important that we work together to ensure that their businesses can prosper.

As your Representative, it’s my job to make sure that Congress creates policies that foster innovation, entrepreneurship and job growth rather than stifle it. Our hardworking small business owners deserve nothing less.

***

 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, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

How U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway and Will Hurd Explained Their Votes to Release Secret Memo

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House Intelligence Committee released a highly controversial memo involving the FBI’s surveillance methods of the Trump campaign Friday afternoon, capping off a dramatic week within the oversight arm that includes three Texans: U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, Will Hurd, R-Helotes and Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.

At its heart, the four-page memo aims to discredit a dossier commissioned in 2016 of then-candidate Donald Trump and the alleged activities of him and his associates with Russia.

Known in Washington as “the Nunes” memo, named for U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California, the document charges that because Democrats in part paid for the the dossier, it should not have been used in surveillance court arguments involving a former Trump adviser, Carter Page, in 2016.

Republican leaders said over the course of the week that the memo must be released as a matter of protecting American citizens’ civil liberties and for government transparency.

Democrats, Justice Department officials and leaders of the FBI strongly urged against the memo’s release, arguing it would jeopardize the sources in which federal government collects intelligence. Critics have also questioned the memo’s accuracy. Furthermore, Democrats argue the main reason for the memo’s release was to begin to lay the groundwork to upend the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by giving senior administration officials grounds to fire those overseeing the investigation.

Before President Trump authorized the declassification of the memo on Friday morning, the House Intelligence Committee voted for that outcome on Monday on a party-line vote. The committee is the most secretive arm of the Congres but it released a transcript of its deliberations earlier this week that revealed how members came to their decisions.

Conaway is the most prominent Texan on the Russian issue and was tapped last year to lead the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“I intend to vote in favor of releasing the minority memo to the House under the – subject, of course, that it does not disclose information that would be harmful to national security,” said Conaway at the meeting. “It is sight unseen. I would vote for it assuming that – sight unseen – assuming that we could trust our colleagues to not reveal issues that would be harmful to national security.”

Castro, the lone Texas Democrat on the committee, had a far different view at the Monday meeting and has appeared on television all week arguing against the memo’s release.

He urged against releasing the Republican memo and added that if the committee did so anyway, he hoped it would be disclosed along with a Democratic rebuttal.

“If the majority is going to move forward and release its memo to the public, I would hope that it would have the courtesy and fairness to either wait for the minority’s memo to also be ripe, as you have described it, or to somehow release them at the same time,” he said.

“To not do that would be reckless,” he added.

Conaway said he would not support the release of a second memo, a Democratic rebuttal, saying such a motion would be “premature.”

“I am not sure of the efficacy of waiting on our memo,” Conaway said. “It is in fact right I believe to send it to the president. But to ask us to do that with a memo we have just read — or haven’t even actually read I think would be irresponsible.”

Beyond the members’ positions, the transcripts are revelatory in how this secretive committee functions.

Conaway proved over the last year to be something of a peacemaker who calmed tensions between Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

Through the meeting, Conaway stuck with his GOP colleagues in their determination to release the memo, but he frequently interjected with clarifications that appeared to assuage the Democrats on the committee.

“I just want the gentleman to know that I respect his efforts and the extraordinarily complicated position he is in in these endeavors,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat.

But even that personal affection had its limitations.

Later, Quigley invoked his hometown’s notorious reputation for bareknuckled politics.

“I saw the worst of the worst,” he said of Chicago politics. “They got nothing on you on this one, folks.”

Hurd, the other Texas Republican serving on the committee, has unique insight into the debate as a former CIA agent but was mostly quiet throughout the meeting, according to the transcript.

On Friday morning – just prior to the memo’s release – he penned an op-ed published by the Washington Post explaining his decision.

“My vote to release the memo was not about discrediting the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election,” Hurd wrote. “It was not about debasing the hard-working men and women serving in the FBI. Rather, I supported the release because I do not agree that an American citizen’s civil liberties should be violated on the basis of unverified information masquerading as intelligence.”

He pointed to the dossier as problematic but maintained that the memo ought not be grounds to obstruct the ongoing special counsel investigation into the 2016 election.

“Let me be clear, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation must continue to ensure that our democracy was not compromised by Russian interference,” Hurd wrote.

Author:  ABBY LIVINGSTON – The Texas Tribune

Hurd on the Hill: Unleashing Innovation

Imagine the following hypothetical scenario: you could buy either one of the first cell phone models (the one that could basically double as a brick) for one price or the latest smartphone for a cheaper price. Which would you buy?

In too many instances, our federal government has been systematically choosing the equivalent of the first option: to spend more money on outdated, unreliable products instead of the cheaper, more advanced options.

The American people send a lot of money up to Washington each year, and it is outrageous that the federal government wastes billions of these hard-earned dollars each year maintaining IT systems that aren’t just outdated, but also leave our digital information – from employee records to government intelligence – susceptible to cyberattacks. In fact, our federal government spends nearly 80 percent of more than $80 billion on simply maintaining existing IT systems.

The bulk of this funding is spent keeping outdated systems alive when some are nearly 60 years old! Not only are many of these systems insecure, they’re becoming increasingly costly. It’s the 21st Century; we should be taking advantage of 21st Century tools.

We have continued to use horse-and-buggy technology throughout every federal agency for decades and reform is long overdue. Imagine being able to renew your passport online. How about our military veterans not having to take hard-copies of their health records with them to the doctor? It’s 2017. The American people deserve better from their government.

This is why I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the last two years to implement landmark IT Reform that will make our government smarter, more cost-effective and more efficient. I am pleased to announce that my smart government bill, the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, was approved in the House and the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and is expected to be signed into law by the President any day.

The bill incentivizes federal agencies to transition their IT systems to more modern platforms like cloud computing by eliminating the traditional use-it-or-lose-it approach that has plagued government spending for years. With this bill, agencies will be able to bank the savings obtained as a result of a transition to cheaper and more modern technological solutions. They can then use that money to modernize other systems, creating a virtuous cycle of modernization and ultimately, savings.

In the past, there has been no incentive for agencies to modernize because they have been unable to keep the savings as a result of modernization. This has kept our federal technology systems decades behind the private sector and has hindered our government’s ability to provide quality and timely services to the American people.

Finally, we’re curing this plague that has hindered our government for decades. Our technologies have evolved since the Stone Age, so should our federal agencies. This can happen now that MGT is a reality.

This will be my twelfth piece of legislation signed into law since taking office in 2015, and I’ll continue working to fix problems and find solutions that help folks in the 23rd District of Texas.

***

Author – Congressman 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, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

I’m here to represent you. As always, please continue to reach out to me with any questions and concerns, and I encourage you to subscribe to my e-newsletter at hurd.house.gov/contact/email and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @HurdOnTheHill

Hurd on the Hill: Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an opportunity to recognize the increasing importance of digital security and to share best practices for keeping our digital information safe.

As we continue to become more dependent on computers, automation and digital data storage, every aspect of our lives – from personal banking information to private health records to our credit records – is vulnerable to hacks.

Government, private-sector and individuals have a long way to go to implement basic cyber hygiene, but the first step towards achieving this goal is having an awareness of the problem. While October is devoted to spreading cyber awareness, we have to protect our systems all year long.

One of the things that make major hacks so frustrating is that many could have been prevented with simple cyber hygiene basics like installing regular software updates and utilizing a complex login password (something other than ‘password’ or ‘12345678’).

For individuals, the easiest way to protect your digital information is by having different, strong passwords for each platform – using numbers, letters and special characters. It seems simple, but it is alarming how many folks have their personal information compromised due to failure to implement this easy step.

As a graduate of Texas A&M University in Computer Science, a former cybersecurity entrepreneur and current Chair of the House IT Subcommittee, one of my highest policy priorities in Congress is defending our digital infrastructure.

As a Chairman I’ve been able to explore ways to better protect our digital infrastructure and I continue to work with my colleagues across the aisle to advocate for policy solutions that drive innovation.  One of these solutions is our Smart Government bill called the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act. This major IT Reform package is designed to strengthen information security by accelerating the federal government’s transition to modern technology like cloud computing.

The federal government spends $90 billion a year on purchasing technology and software and 75% of this money is spent on maintaining old, outdated systems. Our government needs to be able to introduce cutting-edge technology into their networks to improve operational efficiency and decrease cost. The MGT Act does just that, and I am proud that it has passed in both the House and the Senate, and is merely days away from becoming law.

My next initiative is championing the development of a Cyber National Guard. The premise behind this idea is relatively simple: If a student wants to pursue a college degree in computer science, the U.S. Government will pay for it, but they have to agree to work for the federal government for a number of years after they graduate.

Once they complete their term of service in the government and have moved onto the private-sector, they will still rotate back into the federal government for the proverbial two weeks per year in a capacity that would closely resemble that of a reservist.

A Cyber National Guard would ensure a pipeline of quality talent into the federal government and maintain our world leadership in the digital realm by ensuring a regular exchange of talent between the public and private sectors.

The security that Americans enjoy today will not last if we don’t continue to discover the latest ground-breaking technology, engineer the most advanced weaponry and protect our cyber infrastructure from attacks.

The United States must continue to invest in cutting-edge research, encourage private-sector technology development and educate future generations of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.  And the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated.

Hurd on the Hill: National Disability Awareness Month

Since October is National Disability Awareness Month, it gives us the opportunity to celebrate the contributions made to the fabric of our society by our fellow Americans with disabilities.

It’s important to highlight people like my constituent and Helotes neighbor Stefanie Cowley who through persistence and dogged tenacity has made life better for so many people.

Stefanie’s life changed forever in 2007 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease with unknown causes in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of a person’s nerves. Over the next four years, she struggled to find medical treatment options in the United States and her condition worsened.

Relentlessly exploring all treatments, Stefanie eventually resorted to medical tourism and finally began to see progress with a stem cell treatment that was not yet available in Texas. Knowing it could help others just like her, Stefanie spent hours at the Texas State Legislature advocating for Charlie’s Law to allow stem cell therapy access for patients with certain chronic diseases and terminal illnesses, like MS. Thanks to Stefanie, the bill was signed into law in June this year, allowing thousands of suffering Texans to use their own stem cells as medicine.

As treatments and therapy improved her condition, Stefanie joined groups that fight for MS treatment and research, such as Team Wingman in Helotes, and Patients for Stem Cells, who fight for access to adult stem cell therapy. She not only became a voice for those with MS, but also an inspiration to her community.

For her tireless advocacy, Stefanie was recognized as the 2017 Advocate of the Year by San Antonio Independent Living Services.

Stefanie’s stem cell treatments became so successful that she could put her weight on her legs again and no longer needed a traditional wheelchair. The only problem was that she could not get a standing wheelchair approved by Medicare which would help her continue to build muscle in her legs and dramatically improve her quality of life.

Stefanie was familiar with my office and district staff because we had worked through some Medicare issues for her in the past, and she approached us for some help on this latest issue. We pinpointed why her previous Medicare applications for a standing wheelchair were getting denied by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and made the fix. She got her standing wheelchair within a week, and in the process, made it easier for people in similar situations to be successful.

I first met Stefanie during a town hall meeting in 2016. She educated me on the issue of stem cell treatments and the peculiarities of the existing law on this topic. Witnessing what she has been able to accomplish on behalf of the MS community in such a short period of time is truly inspiring.

Stefanie’s story of perseverance is an example to us all on how to fight for what is right. It’s an honor to have worked alongside her and to be able to call her a friend.

If you know someone like Stefanie who is fighting the federal bureaucracy and needs some help, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 210-921-3130.

***

Author – 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, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Hurd Introduces 21st Century SMART Wall Legislation

Thursday, U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX) introduced the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act with Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-TX), David G. Valadao (R-CA), Steve Knight (R-CA), Steve Pearce (R-NM), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Keith Rothfus (R-PA) to ensure that the United States implements the most effective and fiscally-responsible strategy to achieve operational control of our southern border.

“Violent drug cartels are using more modern technology to breach our border than what we are using to secure it. We can’t double down on a Third Century approach to solve 21st Century problems if we want a viable long-term solution,” said Hurd, who represents over 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other Member of Congress.

“We need a Smart Wall that uses high-tech resources like sensors, radar, LIDAR, fiber optics, drones and cameras to detect and then track incursions across our border so we can deploy efficiently our most important resource, the men and women of Border Patrol to perform the most difficult task — interdiction. With a Smart Wall, we can have a more secure border at a fraction of the cost – that can be implemented and fully operational within a year. It’s time to harness American innovation on this most important National Security challenge and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this a reality.”

Under the SMART ACT, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be mandated to deploy the most practical and effective border security technologies available to achieve situational awareness and operational control of our border.

The Secretary would also be required to submit a comprehensive border security strategy to Congress that lists all known physical barriers, technologies, tools, and other devices that can be utilized along the southern border, including a detailed accounting of the aforementioned measures selected for each linear mile of the border and a cost justification for each such measure.

Additionally, the SMART Act authorizes $110 million to increase coordination and collaboration between Customs and Border Patrol and State, county, tribal, and other governmental law enforcement entities that support border security operations.

Lastly, in response to the dire need to upgrade communication technology along the border, the bill creates a two-year grant program to improve emergency communications in the southern border region, including multi-band radios and upgrades from outdated or poorly functioning communication networks.

The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), the exclusive representative of approximately 18,000 Border Patrol Agents supports the SMART Act. President of NBPC Brandon Judd stated, “To secure the border and keep America, we need technology, infrastructure, and manpower.” He added, “The Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology Act will help our agents counter the sophisticated international drug cartels that poison our communities with meth, heroin, and other dangerous drugs. We thank Representative Hurd for his leadership on this issue and encourage Congress to pass this important piece legislation without delay.”

“This bill provides a pragmatic approach to secure our borders,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28). “It calls on DHS to deploy the most effective security technology – such as sensors, aerostats, and cameras – and rather than building walls to meet campaign promises, it takes a measured approach by directing DHS, in conjunction with state and local agencies, to conduct a comprehensive study and analysis of the different tools and solutions available to provide security on our borders. I live on the border and know personally the needs of our U.S. Border Patrol and our Homeland Security agents. A giant wall is nothing more than a 14th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. Further, this bill calls on DHS to take a greater role in controlling the invasive Carrizo cane along our river which presents a huge security risk for our border agents, as well as presenting grave environmental impacts. I thank my colleagues for working with me on these issues.”

“Enhanced border security is an issue fundamental to our national security. We need to know who, and what, is coming across our border. Improving border security is vital to preventing drugs, diseased crops, and weapons from being smuggled into the United States illegally. It is also essential in keeping known criminals and suspected terrorists from entering the United States. The SMART Act will ensure we utilize the most innovated technology to secure and protect our nation,” said Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21).

Hurd on the Hill: Restoring Our National Treasures

With 29 counties, two time zones and more than 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, the 23rd Congressional District of Texas is certainly one of the most unique congressional districts in the nation.

Throughout my two and a half years serving as your Representative, I’ve crisscrossed TX-23 numerous times, meeting with constituents and exploring the variety of sites these 29 counties have to offer, including the seven incredible National Parks I have the distinct honor of advocating for in Congress.

National Parks are an integral part of the American experience, and the seven in our district, including Big Bend and the San Antonio Missions, provide immeasurable cultural, environmental, and economic benefits. Each park’s landscape has a unique story that allows us to understand our past, appreciate our present, and know where we’re going in the future. For these parks to remain beautiful and accessible, we have a responsibility as a nation to care for and maintain them.

The National Park Service (NPS) was created just over 100 years ago to do just that. Today, NPS manages more than 84 million acres comprised of over 400 significant cultural, historic, and natural areas across all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and four territories. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of money to adequately maintain the unique needs of every property. Unfortunately, NPS currently  faces a nationwide backlog of more than $11 billion  to repair roads, visitor facilities, trails, and other park structures, $147  million of which needs to be spent right here in Texas.

Recently, I toured Mission San Jose in San Antonio to view examples of deferred maintenance needed to preserve the original foundation of the Mission walls and rafters. With flooding and humidity, the walls of the rooms swell and move causing visible cracks in the walls and foundation. But the needs at many National Parks are often the less glamorous projects like crumbling roads, leaky plumbing, and adequate bathroom facilities that are necessary to keep these spaces accessible for everyone.

This is why I introduced the National Park Service Legacy Act with my colleagues to fix our parks. The bipartisan bill would address the present backlog by distributing currently unassigned federal mineral revenues back into a restoration fund. The funds can be used for overdue repairs so that our parks can remain beautiful and accessible for future generations of park-goers to enjoy.

I take great pride in our National Parks, and will continue to protect them in Congress. Big Bend, the Guadalupe Mountains, the San Antonio Missions, Fort Davis National Historic Site, the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Amistad National Recreation Area, and El Camino Real de Los Tejas National Historic Trail are treasures we must protect for years to come. With the summer season upon us, I encourage you to experience these remarkable destinations for yourself.

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, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Hurd on the Hill: A Sector by Sector Approach to Border Security

The privilege of representing the 23rd Congressional District of Texas is something I do not take lightly, and I work hard each day to ensure that my votes in Washington reflect the views and best interests of my constituents. I represent more than 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other Member of Congress.

La Frontera forms a unique social and economic connection throughout the district. From El Paso to Del Rio and on to Eagle Pass, each section of the border faces unique geographical, technological and cultural challenges that must be addressed separately.

My stance on the border wall has not changed, because the facts have not changed. There is no question that we must secure our border, but building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to go about doing so. A one-size-fits-all solution won’t address all of the border’s complexities.

While physical barriers are one of many tools and may work well in urban areas, gaining operational control of the entire southern border will require a sector-by-sector approach that adequately empowers the men and women on the ground with technology, resources, and manpower.

I am in favor of investing in technology and personnel, instead of a third century solution. We also must implement an intelligence-led border security approach to combat the 19 criminal organizations currently operating in Mexico. The reality is that these are problems for Mexico as well, and there are a number of units we can be working with to stop these problems before they arrive at our borders.  This will keep people on both sides of the border safer.

I am often asked why I don’t support a border wall, and one of the reasons is because it hasn’t worked in the past. There are already almost 700 miles of fencing along the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.  Much of it is in need of repairs from human smugglers and cartels repeatedly digging under, climbing over and cutting through it. On one of my trips to the border, I saw a portion of the existing fencing that was used by drug traffickers as a ramp to drive a full-size tractor-trailer into the U.S.

Additionally, many of the areas along the Texas-Mexico border are so remote, that border agents measure response time in hours or days. In these places, a fence is not a deterrent.  These areas need surveillance technology, infrastructure and most importantly, personnel. If there are not agents in place to respond to crossings or technology to monitor activity, a wall will do little to effectively secure our border.

Alternatively, we should be able to detect when someone illegally crosses the border, monitor them with a camera or unmanned aerial vehicle, and keep track of the threat until we are able to deploy our most important resources: the men and women in our border patrol.

There is no question that we must secure our border and enforce our nation’s laws. But the last thing we should do is limit ourselves to only one tool in the toolbox. I hope that we can begin talking about strategies, rather than tactics, and measurable benchmarks. When we measure the effectiveness of border security, we shouldn’t be measuring how many miles of fence or wall we have. We should instead measure whether we see a notable decrease in human trafficking, drug smuggling and illegal crossings.

These are lessons I have learned by proactively listening to the concerns of constituents, local law enforcement, landowners and Border Patrol. Until we get it right, this is the message I will carry to my colleagues in Washington and continue to fight for.

***

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, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee

After Road Trip, Hurd and O’Rourke Sign on to One Another’s Bills

After spending two days in a car together, U.S. Reps. Will Hurd and Beto O’Rourke showed Friday their bipartisan road trip was not for nothing.

Back at the U.S. Capitol, the two Texas congressmen signed on to legislation one another is working on, with Hurd, a Helotes Republican, lending his support to a cause that usually divides his party and Democrats: immigration. He became a co-sponsor on O’Rourke’s American Families United Act, which would let family members of U.S. citizens who are barred from ever re-entering the United States on a technical issue to go before a federal judge to decide if they can return.

“It’s not comprehensive immigration reform, but it’s part of immigration law that is not working for U.S. citizens right now, helps folks in our districts, helps folks throughout the United States,” said O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, during a livestream of his meeting with Hurd on Friday. “And let’s hope that it shows our colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, that there’s a way to work on a contentious issue like immigration and find some common ground.”

For his part, O’Rourke added his name to Hurd’s American Law Enforcement Heroes Act, which would make it easier for local police departments to hire veterans. Hurd is collaborating on the bill with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Like their road trip earlier this week — which began after winter weather derailed Hurd’s flight back to Washington — the event Friday was livestreamed and put on display their budding friendship. After signing on as co-sponsors to one another’s bills, they exchanged gifts.

O’Rourke, who is of Irish descent, gave Hurd a green tie because he was not wearing the color for St. Patrick’s Day. Hurd gave O’Rourke a framed map of their initial route to Nashville that Hurd had drawn.

Related coverage:

Author:  PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Opinion: Hurd on the Hill – Constituent-Driven Policy & Obamacare Opinions

Last week, I hosted my thirteenth live telephone town hall meeting in the last two years.  Although they are no substitute for the 50-plus in-person town halls and more than 400 public events I have also led, telephone town hall meetings have allowed me to communicate with over 630,000 constituents since 2015.

Telephone town halls are just what they sound like – town hall meetings conducted over the telephone. They give me the opportunity to connect with thousands of constituents while I’m in Washington for the legislative session, and are one of many ways that I listen to constituents on a regular basis.

Over the course of 92 minutes last Thursday evening, I spoke with thousands of constituents from across the district and answered their questions live. I also asked a series of poll questions to get important feedback from folks.

Among several topics that were discussed, we spent the majority of our time talking about how Obamacare has failed, and what constituents can expect with its repeal and improved replacement in the future.  In response to my survey questions, I learned that half of over 500 respondents are paying more for insurance today than they were before Obamacare, and more than 40 percent of them have, or know someone who has had, to change insurance plans or doctors since Obamacare was implemented.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Americans receiving insurance through the Obamacare exchanges have been pummeled by a 25 percent average increase in premiums. These numbers are crippling American families and the situation is only going to get worse with fewer coverage options and even higher costs.

I wanted to discuss Obamacare on the telephone town hall because I have spent a lot of time lately reassuring constituents that as we repeal and replace it, individuals and families will not be left without healthcare. After asking another poll question, over 70 percent of respondents agreed that Congress should not repeal Obamacare without a replacement. This tells me that most of us are all on the same page. I am confident that Congress will deliver on our promise to provide a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.

It’s also clear that key provisions of our replacement plan, like tax credits and guaranteeing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, have broad support. Not surprisingly, constituents on the call favored being incentivized by tax credits when purchasing insurance, rather than being fined for declining it. Over 80 percent of respondents also agreed that certain features of Obamacare, such as guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions and staying on a parent’s plan until age 26, should stay in place. These are features that House Republicans will preserve.

In upcoming weeks, Congress will begin the process of repealing Obamacare’s most burdensome components – including eliminating the individual and employer mandate penalties – and move forward with patient-centered reforms.

As we move through the process, I assure you that your experiences are important to me and will continue to shape my opinions on how we should move forward. Please continue to reach out to me with your questions and concerns, and, if you would like to participate in future telephone town hall meetings, constituents may subscribe on my website.

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 Intelligence Committee, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Hurd on the Hill: Priorities for a Second Term

The 115th Congress offers a fresh start for many legislative reforms that lawmakers have been working towards for years.

Together, the new Congress has the opportunity to achieve major national benchmarks like replacing Obamacare with truly affordable patient-centered care; making our tax code fairer, flatter and simpler; and rolling back the overwhelming regulations that stifle job growth and innovation, among others. I’m hopeful and excited to work together with my colleagues to make government more responsive, efficient, and accountable for all Americans.

It has always been my highest priority to keep Americans safe from harm. As our relationship with Russia becomes increasingly complicated, ISIS continues to terrorize the western world, and we become progressively dependent on secure online systems, the need is greater than ever to continue authoring national security and cybersecurity legislation to keep Americans safe.

I am also committed to continuing to offer my constituents the Gold Standard when it comes to two-way communication and the services that my office provides. As evidence of this, in the last two years I responded to over 50,000 constituent letters, helped over 1,000 constituents with casework, and hosted over 400 public meetings throughout the district.

My constituents can expect this standard as long as I have the honor of representing you, and I look forward to thousands more opportunities to interact, hear your opinions, and help you with federal agencies.

In addition to those continued goals, the 115th Congressional session offers an opportunity to improve trade deals and strengthen relations with Texas’s number one trading partner—Mexico. My district includes over 800 miles of the Texas-Mexico border, and I am dedicated to finding ways to upgrade NAFTA so that border communities from Eagle Pass to El Paso can continue to thrive economically.

On top of this, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to make healthcare affordable by empowering patients, not bureaucrats; to provide regulatory relief for millions of Texas businesses; and to clean up the VA so that our veterans can count on receiving the care that they have earned.

We certainly have our work cut out for us, but we are armed with a new Congress and a clean slate. I am optimistic for the progress we will make over the next two years with a united government, and excited for what we will accomplish together.

Congressman Will Hurd

Author: Rep. Will Hurd –  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 as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Hurd on the Hill: Bringing Computer Science to Middle School Students

Coding is the language of the 21st Century economy. If our students can’t speak it, they will be left behind. We must do a better job preparing our students for the jobs that don’t exist yet—and we’ve got to start at an earlier age.

Over 42,000 computer jobs go unfilled in Texas each year because we do not produce enough computer scientists—and these jobs pay over twice the average salary in Texas. As a former computer science major at Texas A&M, this problem is close to my heart.

There is no reason we should be missing the opportunity to prepare students for these high paying jobs.

The majority of students do not have access to computer science courses until high school. What is more interesting, is that according to a recent State law, most 8th graders must now select one of five “endorsement” tracks, which influences their course curriculum throughout high school.  Students interested in computer science would theoretically choose the STEM endorsement track.

But how are they supposed to know that they are interested in computer science if they have never been exposed to it?

Therein lies the problem: the vast majority of our middle schools do not offer computer science at all. Right now, the pipeline that produces Computer Science professionals starts at the high school level.

That is why I have been working with several members of the public, private, and non-profit sectors, to develop a plan that provides earlier access to quality computer science education for our kids.

In partnership with the University of Texas Center for STEM Education and non-profit organization Bootstrap, my curriculum initiative will train middle school teachers to integrate computer science into State-approved mathematics curriculums.

Intel, Dell, Facebook, Brocade, and Toyota of Texas have agreed to generously fund the training, and the first training workshop will be held March 23 – 25 in San Antonio.

Because the curriculum is taught through existing math classes, schools do not need additional teachers or classes. Forty middle school teachers from across the 23rd Congressional District of Texas may participate at little to no cost so that they can implement the program in the classroom in fall 2017. This could potentially expose at least 5,000 students in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas to Computer Science.

It’s exciting that the public and private sectors are working together to produce real returns for the community, and it is my hope that we inspire many more students to pursue careers in computer science.

If you are a superintendent, principal, teacher or parent and would like more information, visit Hurd.House.Gov/CS or contact my office at 210-921-3130.

Congressman Will Hurd

 

Author: 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 as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Hurd on the Hill: A New Agenda To Give Small Business A Break

As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, I am excited about our opportunity to finally deliver comprehensive tax reform that will empower small businesses in Texas and across the country.

America’s small businesses embody the best of who we are as a nation and the promise of who we can be. They show that through grit and ingenuity, a simple idea can be transformed into a breakthrough product or service that improves countless lives.

As a Texan, I know how proud we are of our homegrown businesses. We celebrate the achievements of local companies which began small and are starting to make it big. Unfortunately, we’re now hearing fewer and fewer of these success stories. Our broken tax code is a major reason why. Because of significant tax and regulatory hurdles, it has become even harder for startups to survive, much less succeed.

The inhospitable business climate fostered by America’s broken tax code discourages entrepreneurs from putting their ideas into motion. Bold risk-takers who are considering starting a company may be forced to wait until conditions are more favorable, or even abandon the pursuit altogether. Businesses that are already up and running may have to stop hiring or making new investments until it’s safer to do so. Our economy stalls.

To empower Main Street job creators, we must free small businesses from the burdens of America’s broken tax code. In June, House Republicans released a blueprint for bold, pro-growth tax reform. With it, we have an opportunity to hit the ground running in 2017 on a historic tax overhaul that will get our economy moving again.

Our plan includes many provisions that will make it easier for people to start and grow their own small business. The reforms range from repealing the “death tax” — which is a major reason family-owned businesses are not passed down to the next generation — to innovative solutions that make the tax code dramatically simpler and fairer.

First, we end the practice of taxing small business income at individual rates as high as 44.6 percent. These earnings will instead be taxed at no more than 25 percent. This will help local businesses grow in good economic times and bad, offering them the freedom to keep more of what they earn so it can be used to serve more customers or hire new workers.

Next, we take bold action to unleash business investment. For the first time in history, businesses of all sizes will be able to fully and immediately write off purchases of equipment or technology needed to produce and compete at a higher level.

For startups with few extra dollars to spare, this means you can afford to buy cutting-edge software or machinery without having to forgo hiring more workers. For workers, it means new tools to help you do your job more efficiently. Greater productivity leads to higher wages.

Finally, our blueprint helps small businesses by busting up the Internal Revenue Service and redesigning it into an agency with a singular focus — service first.

Under our plan, the IRS will be centered on distinct service units trained to help different groups of taxpayers. One will focus explicitly on providing top-quality assistance to businesses. Main Street job creators will be treated the same way that they treat their own customers — with respect.

When President-elect Trump is in the White House, we will be closer to comprehensive tax reform than at any point the last 30 years. At the House Ways and Means Committee, we will seize this opportunity to deliver a 21st century tax code that offers local businesses a better opportunity to thrive.

Congressman Will Hurd
Guest Contributor – Congressman Will Hurd

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd declares victory over Pete Gallego

SAN ANTONIO –U.S. Rep. Will Hurd claimed victory in his re-election bid Tuesday night, becoming the first incumbent to hold onto the Texas 23rd District in eight years.

“We won this thing because of y’alls hard work,” Hurd, a Republican, said shortly after midnight at his campaign’s official watch party on Hotel Eilon in San Antonio, his hometown. “We won because y’all believed that we could win. We won because y’all worked harder, because y’all cared, because this district recognizes a lot more work needs to be done.”

Hurd claimed victory over an old rival for the second time, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego in the state’s only competitive federal district on Tuesday night, on the heels of Donald Trump’s apparent election to the presidency.

See the latest results here.

In his remarks delivered around 1 a.m., Gallego said he called Hurd to congratulate him – ending a bitter campaign on what appeared to be a collegial note.

Gallego acknowledged the devastation his party faced nationally.

“There is a lot of concern and trepidation,” he said, alluding to the likely ascension of Trump to the White House.

“One thing I’ve learned: We are a resilient nation,” Gallego continued. “The sun rises tomorrow. It’s a new day. And we begin putting one foot in front of the other as we have every other day for generations’ and generations’ past and as I know we will for generations to come.”

Hurd’s win was one of many blows to the Democratic party nationwide – he was considered one of the most vulnerable House Republicans and among the easiest pick ups for the Democrsts.

The conventional wisdom was that Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric could be an albatross around Hurd’s neck and Gallego staked his entire campaign around tying Hurd to Trump.

Hurd, a former undercover CIA officer, repudiated his party’s nominee upon the release of a vulgar video showing Trump boasting about groping women.

Trump, however, outperformed expectations nationally and appeared to help Hurd with at least some voters in the district.

“I voted for Donald Trump because I think he’s good for America,” said Daniel Arevalo, a salesman voting Tuesday at McCollum High School in San Antonio. “I don’t think Hillary has any business-sense and he does and in my opinion he’ll do better for us than she will. I voted for Will Hurd just for the Republican ticket.”

Hurd ran one of the best executed and funded Congressional campaigns the state has ever seen. The hope among some Texas Republicans is that he can hold onto the seat long enough and build enough constituent loyalty that he can cease the flip flop nature of the district until the next round of redistricting.

Hurd’s win bolsters U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s standing among House Republicans. Ryan was a strong supporter of Hurd’s re-election, and Hurd’s presence in the GOP conference eases Ryan’s path to a second term as the House GOP leader.

Just like every cycle, the 23rd Congressional District is all-but-certain to be a top target for the opposition.

But the environment will have changed from the last two midterms. Over the last eight years, Republicans did well in those cycles, thanks to a combination of lower voter turnout and as a backlash to the Obama administration.

Prior to serving in Congress, Gallego was a longtime member of the Texas House. Once in Washington, he became a sentimental favorite among House Democrats, as senior members recruited him to run against Hurd just days after his 2014 loss. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signaled throughout the 2016 cycle that winning this seat was a top priority of her political agenda.

Author:  ABBY LIVINGSTON AND ELENA MEJIA LUTZ

 

Trump’s Campaign Spiral jolts Hurd-Gallego Rematch

In deeply red Texas, fallout from Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women has been more limited than in other states.

Top Texas Republicans uniformly condemned the remarks without pulling their support, standing by Trump with under a month to go until Election Day — and more peril on the horizon for his already flagging campaign.

An exception, however, swiftly unfolded in the state’s 23rd Congressional District, where Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, locked in a heated rematch with Pete Gallego, called on Trump to leave the race, crystalizing opposition to his party’s nominee after months of Democratic pressure.

The full repudiation by Hurd, who had never endorsed Trump, launched the race into a new stage, auguring a brutal homestretch in a battle Democrats had longed hoped would hinge on Trump.

Texas Republicans, even those fully behind Trump, say they get it.

“We in the county continue to support Trump, but I fully understand what Hurd’s trying to do and what he’s trying to accomplish,” said Adolpho Telles, chairman of the El Paso County GOP. “He’s gotta do what he’s gotta to do to maintain his seat.” 

The turning point in the 23rd — home to the only competitive congressional race this November in Texas — began just hours after the surfacing of a 2005 clip last Friday showing Trump speaking in explicit terms about sexual assault. Hurd initially responded with a statement condemning the comments as “utterly sickening and repulsive for all women and Americans.” A day later, Hurd issued another statement announcing he would not vote for Trump and asking the nominee to “step aside for a true conservative to beat Hillary Clinton.” 

Now, fully untethered from Trump, Hurd’s campaign is making the case he would be a check-and-balance on whomever the next president is — not just a rubber stamp for his or her agenda. His campaign has started airing a TV ad that argues he would hold accountable either Clinton or Trump in the White House — an increasingly common refrain in congressional contests across the country as Trump continues to tank. 

“In Congress, Will Hurd had the guts to take on the FBI director when reckless actions put our nation in danger,” a narrator says, referring to Hurd’s questioning of the director, James Comey, over the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails. “Will Hurd fights for what he believes in and is the only candidate willing to stand up to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”

The new tack is not satisfying Democrats, who were quick to argue Hurd’s change of heart was too little, too late. They say that Hurd’s full disavowal of Trump on Saturday does not make up for his relative silence in previous instances of Trump attacking women, minorities and the military. 

“Mr. Hurd was meek as a mouse as Mr. Trump made all of his comments, and it is too late for that mouse to roar now,” Gallego told reporters Tuesday, appearing at a news conference ahead of a Trump visit to San Antonio. 

Gallego’s campaign quickly moved to put the argument on the air, releasing a TV ad Monday that criticizes Hurd for taking too long to fully distance himself from Trump. Gallego was the first Democratic congressional candidate to release a commercial of its type, according to a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Courageous leaders in both parties have spoken out that Donald Trump must never be our commander in chief,” Gallego says in the spot, facing the camera. “Congressman Hurd waited until it was too late to speak out about Donald Trump.”

While Trump allies have gone after anti-Trump Republicans in other states, Hurd does not appear to be paying a price within his own party in Texas. Asked Wednesday about Hurd’s call for Trump to step aside, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chairs Trump’s efforts in the Lone Star State, struck a deferential tone while noting he is “very supportive” of Hurd.

“If an individual person — we’re talking about one out of our whole delegation — makes a decision they don’t want to be tied to the top [of the ticket], that’s their decision,” Patrick said in an interview with Time Warner Cable News. “But Trump is willing to help them if they want the help.”

On Friday, Hurd’s repudiation of Trump continued to be of more intense interest to Democrats. The DCCC issued a statement questioning why Hurd, if he is not voting for Trump, is not supporting Clinton in what House Speaker Paul Ryan has labeled a “binary choice.” Ryan is set to visit San Antonio on Monday to attend a fundraiser for Hurd, his third event for the freshman this election cycle.

Hurd was also hit Friday with a pair of new TV ads linking him to Trump, one from the DCCC and the other from House Majority PAC, a super PAC that works to elect Democrats to the House. The DCCC spots highlight how Hurd was open to voting for Trump until Saturday, and the House Majority PAC commercial asserts Hurd “sided with Donald Trump and his political party, hurting Texas families.”

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Author:  – The Texas Tribune