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Home | Tag Archives: will hurd

Tag Archives: will hurd

Hurd on the Hill: Addressing the Border Crisis

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 Patrol.

Residents are rightfully concerned about this issue, and the ramifications for public safety and the drain on taxpayer resources. That’s why I took two actions in Congress recently to immediately address these concerns.

We must address the pull factors that encourage the mass migration to the United States we’re seeing. One of these pull factors is our outdated asylum laws. Word gets out through the smugglers and migrant populations on what to do and what to say when being apprehended at the border.

Too many loopholes and nefarious motives have allowed people to take advantage of the system and overwhelm the process. The cascade effect leaves more and more migrants with fraudulent asylum claims entering our country every day, taking advantage of our outdated laws. If we’re serious about solving the border crisis reforming our asylum laws is an essential step.

I have a plan to reform U.S. asylum laws, address the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border and provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies with much-needed relief. My Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would overhaul antiquated laws ill-equipped for addressing the current crisis.

The proposal will fix our broken asylum system and end the cycle that encourages illegal immigration, diverts resources from those with legitimate claims and, in many cases, actually rewards the kingpin human smugglers who thrive on its perpetuation.

The Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would make several important changes to U.S. asylum laws, including:

  • Limiting eligibility for asylum to migrants who enter the U.S. at a port of entry, which would discourage illegal entry into the country and ensure Customs and Border Protection can process migrants in a controlled and orderly manner;
  • Prohibiting migrants who are arriving from a contiguous country (i.e., Canada or Mexico) from seeking asylum unless they have already been denied asylum or a similar protection in that country, ensuring that migrants are seeking protection from our neighbors before entering our asylum process. This prohibition would not apply if migrants are seeking asylum because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in Mexico or Canada;
  • Codifying the administration’s credible fear standard used to screen migrants seeking asylum to ensure agents on the ground are evaluating the credibility of their statements when making their determination. Currently, 80% of migrants from the Northern Triangle pass their credible fear screening, but only 20% ultimately receive asylum. This change will help ensure that future administrations must take into account the credibility of the applicants;
  • Removing existing obstacles that prevent DHS from removing asylum seekers to a safe third country;
  • Deterring frivolous asylum claims by closing loopholes and defining what is considered a frivolous asylum filing; and,
  • Extending the statute of limitations for fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents that may be used in asylum matters from 5 years after the date that the offense occurred, to 10 years. Given the current backlog of asylum claims, we are rarely able to prosecute these types of offenses.

These reforms would halt the widespread abuse of our current system, streamline our existing processing of these individuals and, most importantly, ensure that our asylum system works for the people who need it most – those fleeing legitimate persecution in their home country.

There is still more to be done, and I remain committed to soliciting feedback and doing whatever it takes to solve this problem so we can actually help our communities.

I’m also standing up for border communities by asking for federal reimbursement for expenses incurred by local governments assisting with the ongoing needs of the migrant population. I fired off a letter this week to the Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, urging more funding for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) State and Local programs accounts for Southwest border states, and asking that these funds be used to reimburse cities, counties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fulfilling the role of the executive branch while dealing with the influx of migrants in their backyards.

Our Texas communities should not be forced to shoulder the costs of dealing with the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. That’s why I am asking for federal reimbursement for our taxpayers. Due to a lack of human resources, DHS has been forced to release thousands of individuals into small communities along our southern border oftentimes without notice to NGOs or local governments.

Local communities should not have to bear the brunt of flawed policies at the border and must be fully compensated both for their humane response and for the security of our citizens, who are dealing with an issue that should be shouldered by federal agencies.

The Asylum Reform Act of 2019 and championing a federal reimbursement for localities are my latest efforts to help address the problem at the border. These are only parts of the larger whole, but I remain committed to implementing the over $220 billion I have voted for to fund DHS and improve technology and security at the border.

***

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.

***

The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all local 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

Rep. Hurd releases proposal to reform US asylum laws

On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Will Hurd released a proposal to reform U.S. asylum laws and address the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border that is straining the resources of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies and overwhelming local communities.

According to Hurd, the Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would overhaul antiquated laws ill-equipped for addressing the current crisis.

“This proposal would fix our broken asylum system that encourages illegal immigration, diverts resources from those with legitimate claims and, in many cases, actually rewards the kingpin human smugglers who thrive on its perpetuation,” said Hurd, who represents 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other member of Congress.

Via a news release, the details of Hurd’s Asylum Reform Act of 2019 would make several important changes to U.S. asylum laws, including:

  • Limiting eligibility for asylum to migrants who enter the U.S. at a port of entry, which would discourage illegal entry into the country and ensure Customs and Border Protection can process migrants in a controlled and orderly manner.
  • Prohibiting migrants who are arriving from a contiguous country (i.e., Canada or Mexico) from seeking asylum unless they have already been denied asylum or a similar protection in that country, ensuring that migrants are seeking protection from our neighbors before entering our asylum process. This prohibition would not apply if migrants are seeking asylum because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution in Mexico or Canada.
  • Codifying the administration’s credible fear standard used to screen migrants seeking asylum to ensure agents on the ground are evaluating the credibility of their statements when making their determination. Currently, 80% of migrants from the Northern Triangle pass their credible fear screening, but only 20% ultimately receive asylum. This change will help ensure that future administrations must take into account the credibility of the applicants.
  • Removing existing obstacles that prevent DHS from removing asylum seekers to a safe third country.
  • Deterring frivolous asylum claims by closing loopholes and defining what is considered a frivolous asylum filing.
  • Extending the statute of limitations for fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents that may be used in asylum matters from 5 years after the date that the offense occurred, to 10 years. Given the current backlog of asylum claims, we are rarely able to prosecute these types of offenses.

“Our asylum system, created in the 1980’s, never could have anticipated such a large number of migrants seeking asylum. That’s why reforming our asylum laws is an essential step to address the unprecedented crisis at our border,” Hurd stated.

“There is still more to be done, and I remain committed to soliciting feedback and doing whatever it takes to solve this problem so we can actually help our communities. Good policy is good politics – not the other way around.”

Op-Ed: Hurd on the Hill: We must secure our Southern border

I have devoted the entirety of my adult life to keeping Americans safe. For nearly a decade, I served as an undercover officer in the CIA during the Global War on Terror.

My job was to stop bad people from doing bad things in our homeland.

Since being in Congress, I’ve made border security one of my top priorities. In fact, the very first bill I had signed into law prevented significant pay cuts for our Border Patrol Agents. I have also fought to increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency responsible for protecting our borders.

Over the last four years, I’ve voted for $220 billion in funding to help provide more resources to the Department. Through my work, the House has passed funding for a diverse arsenal of tools to protect the southern border such as:

  • $8 billion for border infrastructure, which includes physical barriers and associated technology;
  • $18.7 billion for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement personnel;
  • $1 billion in improvements at our Ports of Entry; and,
  • $270 million in the last 2 years for the use of technology to detect border crossings.

What is happening at our border is a significant problem – 400,000 people attempted to come into our country illegally last year and over $67 billion worth of illegal drugs flowed into our communities. It’s 2019 and we still don’t have operational control of our border. When I say operational control I mean we should know everything that is coming back and forth across our border. We haven’t been able to achieve this ability because we haven’t been pursuing a strategy of focusing on all 2,000 miles of our border at the same time. We currently have 654 miles of physical barriers and Congress has funded the construction of 88 more miles.

Even the President emphasized that “We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea.” Because every mile of our border is different, requiring a different approach that accounts for the unique geographic, cultural and technological conditions along our border.

We need to be using all of our available resources, including: physical barriers in densely-populated areas, technology so we can track threats until the brave men and women of border patrol can conduct an arrest, and we need more men and women in Border Patrol.

As your Representative, and the Representative of over 820 miles of our U.S.-Mexico border, I have consistently supported bills and worked with my colleagues and folks back home to develop initiatives that keep you safe.

Border Security is critical to our national security, and I will continue to do everything in my power to protect the safety of communities in South and West Texas.

###

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: Preserving our Veterans’ Stories

From the shores of Tripoli, to the beaches of Normandy, to the mountains of Afghanistan, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces have made countless sacrifices to ensure our freedom.

Our Constitution, our democracy, all that we honor and hold sacred has been made possible through their tireless service.

The stories of their service are written with friendship, hardship, fear, bravery, failure and triumph. Most are not showered in glory or immortalized in movies, but the experiences of our veterans compose the story of America. Some of their stories risk being lost to time. I wanted to do something about it.

Over the past year my team has crisscrossed the 29 counties I represent in South and West Texas to hear from our nation’s heroes, who were willing to share personal accounts of their experiences in the armed forces as part of the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. This project’s mission is to preserve veterans’ stories of their service for generations to come.

Over the duration of this effort, 23 veterans shared their stories about their time in uniform and service to our great nation. From fighting the Axis powers to ISIS, they paved the way for today’s servicemembers, some of which I was proud to work with during my time in the CIA.

Each of their stories will now be preserved in the world’s greatest centralized collection of human knowledge, the Library of Congress, so that future generations can hear directly from the brave men and women from the 23rd District of Texas who did their part to keep our nation safe.

Those who have answered the call to serve our country can be found all across TX-23. From Fort Bliss at the western edge, to Joint Base San Antonio and Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, it is a continuous source of pride to represent over 4,600 active-duty military and 45,000 military veterans across my district’s 29 counties and two time zones.

History is only one generation away from being forgotten. That’s why it is our job to preserve the stories of the brave service members in all corners of the globe, many in harm’s way, protecting the United States and our allies from threats to our way of life. Their quiet sacrifices and extraordinary acts of service will not be lost to time.

These stories will be available to the public on the Library of Congress’s website in the coming months. My office will also continue to collect the stories of our TX-23 veterans and gold-star families.

If you are a TX-23 veteran, or a gold-star family member, who would like to share the story of your fallen loved one for this project, please contact my office at 210-921-3130 or online.

###

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: 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.

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