BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Congressman Bill Flores joined the BVTM Crew in studio to talk about the second session of the 115th Congress. Flores and fellow Republicans have a busy few months ahead as they prepare to tackle key issues like an impending government shutdown, the Children's Health Insurance Program, DACA and Hurricane Disaster Relief.
Republicans are returning to Washington following a big victory on Tax Reform. This marks the first time since the 1980’s that the government has changed the way the country does taxes. This means big changes for people in the Brazos Valley.
“Most of our working class population is going to feel an increase in their net take home paychecks in February,” said Rep. Flores. But more importantly, he says businesses are starting to announce special bonuses for employees and new investment plans which both promote job growth and economic activity. “By the end of the year, I think you’re going to see a totally different economy than you see today.”
On Friday, Republican leadership met with President Trump at Camp David to discuss their 2018 agenda. The most pressing issue on the table is the government-spending bill, which needs to be addressed by January 19 to avoid a government shutdown. “There are discussions going on behind the scenes to sit down with the Democrats so that we can agree on what defense spending should be and what non-defense discretionary spending should be. And we need to cut a two-year deal to get both sides happy with that. Folks haven’t come to the table before to do this, hopefully they will now.”
Congress has also passed a temporary spending bill for the Childhood Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The program covers 9 million children and ran out of funding in September. The temporary solution is supposed to last until the end of March but many say it will run out of money before then. Josh Ninke asked the congressman if the program has bipartisan support then why is it so difficult to find a permanent solution?
“We have a hyper-partisan environment in Washington today and the other side of the aisle just hates the president so much, they don’t want to give him any legislative victories.” Flores says House Republicans reached out to democrats in July but they were holding out for things that are impossible, so they passed a CHIP funding bill on their own. The House is now waiting of the Senate to take it up.
Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is ending soon in its current form. The Obama era program protects the children of immigrants, brought to the country illegally when they were children, from deportation. It covers some 800,000 kids across the U.S and 124,000 in Texas. President Trump called for an end to the program within a matter of months. Now, with only a few months left in that timeline, are we any closer to a solution for these young people?
“I’ll be candid with you, we had so much, in terms of other things going on; CHIP, trying to get the government funded, tax reform, that it was difficult to find many people to sit down and actually have an earnest discussion about DACA. I think this month, we’re going to see a different attitude about that,” said Rep. Flores. He thinks lawmakers can find a bipartisan solution for dreamers that will also include border security and visa tracking and enforcement. “You put those three things together, it should be bipartisan, you’ll have elements on the far fringes of each ideological spectrum that will be against it but 90 percent of the middle will be solidly behind it.”
Finally, the House has passed an $81 million spending bill for disaster relief following hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. It’s been called the largest spending bill of its kind and would go a long way toward helping rebuild, but it has not yet passed the Senate. Flores says the bill had bipartisan support in the house and he hopes to see the same in the Senate.