New Congress - What Happened this Week

Speaker elected, Keystone approved, Hire More Heroes Act

On Tuesday, the 114th Congress officially convened, and I was honored to be sworn in for the new session. With Republican control of the House and Senate, we have an important opportunity to stop the Executive’s disastrous, unconstitutional actions and pass legislation that cuts spending, grows our economy and provides our military with the resources it needs to protect our nation.

I know many are disappointed about the vote for Speaker. I share those concerns about some of the decisions that have been made by leadership. However, a half-hearted, unorganized campaign to unseat the Speaker failed before it ever even started.

Here’s what happened: in November, after the elections, House Republicans held a closed door meeting where Members could nominate or announce their intention to run for Speaker. We were even given the chance to vote for a Speaker anonymously in a secret ballot. That was essentially the primary election for Speaker, and that was the time for someone to step up and present their plan for how they would lead differently. No one came forward. No one opposed John Boehner.

Weeks later and just days before the House was set to publicly vote for Speaker (in what is essentially the general election), a few Members announced their “candidacy” on national talk shows. These “write-in candidates” presented no plan to lead and never reached out to their colleagues to ask for their support. They couldn’t even agree on who should replace the Speaker. Why? Because they were not serious about winning; it was about personal publicity. Frankly, and most importantly, they were not credible or qualified to be Speaker of the U.S. House. One member got 12 votes; another got 3, including a vote he cast for himself. By comparison, Speaker Boehner had 216 votes.

If those individuals were serious about beating the Speaker, they would have done much more than a few last minute media interviews; they would have actually attempted to win the support of their fellow conservatives. Painting yourself as a political martyr will not unseat John Boehner. What it will do is make the Member less credible and less relevant in Congress – that only hurts that Member’s constituents. And that is exactly what happened. To pontificate principle and then jump off a cliff is neither noble nor smart. That’s why only 2 of the 25 Texas Republicans voted for that idea.

We have a historic majority in the House, and we now control the Senate. It’s time to take the fight to the legislative process. Without an obstructionist Democrat majority standing in our way, we are given an opportunity to do just that. We must seize it and start leading. And, if leadership stands in the way or compromises our conservative principles, I will do what I have always done: oppose them.

Here’s what else happened during this first week of the new session:

  1. The House passed, with my support, H.R. 3 to authorize the permit for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. I introduced a similar bill to this, H.R. 28.This pipeline is important to Southeast Texas, where it would bring 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada. In turn, it’s expected to create thousands of construction and energy-related jobs, many in Texas. The Senate is expected to pass this legislation later this month.
  2. The Hire More Heroes Act also passed the House with my support. This bill helps put more of our returning veterans and wounded warriors to work by relieving small businesses from Obamacare’s employer mandate. This requires businesses to pay for their employees’ healthcare, but for employees who are veterans, they already have health plans paid for by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or the Department of Defense, including TRICARE. I was proud to support this common sense legislation. We owe it to our warriors who fought for our nation to help ease their transition back home.

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