This week, the U.S. House of Representatives shut down an effort by Texas congressman Pete Gallego to expand VA facilities around the country. Gallego's motion narrowly failed, by a vote of 201-213. Thirteen Republicans supported the measure, while two Democrats voted against it.
Gallego had introduced a motion that supported Senate language from a bill known as the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act, which previously passed the House and is now in negotiation between the two chambers. The motion would have directed the House to accept a Senate provision that would expand and create new VA facilities around the country.
Gallego's motion would have expanded or added 26 VA facilities nationwide, including 4 in Texas. The motion would have expanded VA facilities in San Antonio, and add new facilities in Lubbock, Tyler, and Houston.
Expanding VA facilities would have helped address one of the biggest problems facing the VA by reducing veterans' wait times to access medical care. As Gallego's office pointed out in a statement, "Currently, the system attempts to move large numbers of veterans through a very limited number of facilities and results in inadequate care, especially for rural veterans." This is especially true in Gallego's 23rd District, which is geographically spread out, making it tougher for veterans to access care.
Watch Pete Gallego stand up for veterans on the House floor after the jump.
After the false ad the Koch brothers released last week attacking CD-23 Congressman Pete Gallego's record on veterans issues, details came to light on how Gallego's opponent, Republican Will Hurd, has a budget plan that would decimate services for veterans.
Will Hurd's budget plan calls for indiscriminate cuts of 16% across the board, including for veterans' services. The list of services that would be harmed by Hurd's plan is immense, from medical care to career counseling.
In total, there are over 46,000 veterans in CD-23 who have served this country but would have their access to services like disability compensation and housing assistance slashed by Will Hurd's budget plan.
Read what services would be cut, and watch Pete Gallego's response, after the jump.
The Koch brothers may have tried to push false attacks against CD-23 Congressman Pete Gallego's record on veterans' issues, but it turns out the candidate who's really going to hurt veterans is Republican Will Hurd.
You may remember Hurd as the SUV enthusiast who beat out former Representative Quico Canseco in the May runoff election to be the Republican candidate for CD-23. Turns out Will Hurd doesn't just want to drive around the 23rd District in his SUV--he supports Republican budget policies that will slash benefits for veterans.
At a Tea Party Forum during the campaign, Hurd said that, "Congress needs to cap federal spending to 'a percentage of GDP- 18% is a good number' because that was the number when the budget was last balanced. 'That would translate to cuts of 16% across the board.'" That includes vital veterans services that are used by thousands of people in CD-23.
Read how Pete Gallego has supported veterans in Congress after the jump.
Congressman Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), along with Congressman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), introduced a bipartisan amendment to the House floor yesterday to address funding cuts proposed towards domestic violence programs. The amendment added an additional $5 million to be split evenly by the Office of Violence Against Women-Prevention and Prosecution, and the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Enforcement program. These important domestic violence programs are part of the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice Science Appropriations Bill.
Gallego's amendment was adopted unanimously by the chamber.
Comments by Gallego detailing the importance of domestic violence programs below the jump.
'Battleground: Middle Class' ad against Quico Canseco and Will Hurd
Following the release of the Congressional Republicans' new budget on Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched 'Battleground: Middle Class', targeting competitive House races to inform voters just how destructive the Republicans' new budget plan is towards the middle class.
While it comes to no one's surprise that Republicans only claim to represent middle class voters, their new budget plan goes far-and-beyond in selling out the middle class in order to appease corporations and the ultra-rich.
Highlights of the Republicans' new budget plan include: "Raising taxes on middle class families, ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors and turning Medicare into a voucher program, and costing our economy 1.1 million jobs next year alone - all while heaping tax breaks on corporations that ship jobs overseas."
The DCCC's 'Battleground: Middle Class' ad in Texas targets Republican candidates for CD-23 -- Will Hurd and former Congressman Quico Canseco -- who will be facing each other in a primary run-off to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Representative Pete Gallego.
Check out the ad's video, and read the DCCC's press release regarding the 'Battleground: Middle Class' effort against Hurd and Canseco below the jump.
U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Pete Gallego, and Gene Green, the missing Texas Democratic votes
This week, a final total of 220 U.S. Representatives and Senators joined in signing a letter urging President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBT federal workers. This executive order would cover as many as 16 million employees.
"We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a 'year of action' and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, 'now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,'" says the letter.
Nine out of the twelve Texas Democratic members in the House were among those who signed the letter, in addition to also co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that is further more comprehensive at preventing workplace discrimination than an executive order by President Obama.
As reported by Lone Star Q, only three Texas Democrats were among the lawmakers who did not sign the letter: Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), and Gene Green (D-Houston). Cuellar, Gallego and Green are among the very few Democrats in Congress who have also not co-sponsored ENDA.
With only 19 more votes needed to force Speaker John Boehner to call ENDA up to the floor, every single vote matters. Especially missing support by Democrats.
Great news going out by Congressman Pete Gallego to Texas' 23rd congressional district.
In a press release sent out this week, Gallego (D-Alpine) announced 22 counties that are part of CD-23 will begin to receive federal drought relief assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The much needed initiative was made possible through a declaration by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
"Our farmers and ranchers have been hit by a terrible drought in Texas," said Gallego in the press release. "Now, these businessmen and women can seek help and protect their farms and ranchlands through an emergency loan. I will continue to work with Secretary Vilsack, and the House Agriculture Committee to make resources available for this."
Check out the complete press release below the jump, which highlights the 22 counties.
Reflecting on this most recent Veterans Day, Congressman Pete Gallego spoke in support of comprehensive immigration reform, and how this is relevant to immigrants who have served in the US Military. In the speech below, he explains how many of those who have served who make the biggest sacrifices-- themselves-- to this country, are still forced to go through excessive lengths to receive citizenship status. Many, as Gallego explains, only receive citizenship status posthumously, after they have made the supreme sacrifice.
In the video below, Congressman Pete Gallego shares remarks on his support for comprehensive immigration reform. In his speech, Gallego focuses specifically on the economic benefits of immigration reform. While the moral benefits of immigration reform are the most important, proving that there are solid economic benefits to be seen helps negate conservative nay-sayers who suggest their opposition to immigration reform is based on "practical" reasons based in economics, and not their own xenophobia.
Gallego cites specific examples, such as a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that says immigrant-owned businesses have the potential in generating $775 Billion in revenue. He also highlights support for comprehensive immigration reform from the George W. Bush Institute.
Read the transcript in English and Spanish below the jump.
Even if the federal government shuts down on Tuesday, current law preserves paychecks for members of Congress. On Sunday, Ted Cruz said he's planning to keep on taking his salary during a shutdown (which, if it happens, he will have caused).
On Saturday, West Texas' Rep. Pete Gallego introduced a bill to unprotect congressional paychecks during a shutdown - all 535 of them. The point, of course, is to take away the cushion on which Republicans can expect to receive their salaries if they shut down the federal government.
"Congress should work around-the-clock, and do so without pay, to keep the government running," the Democratic congressman said in a press release. "Putting the full faith and credit of the United States at risk should never be a debating point. A shutdown should not even be on the table - this is not rocket science."
Shutdown crusader Cruz is personally wealthy. In 2011, his family's income was more than $1.5 million. In 2012, he lent his campaign $800,000. He won't feel the pain that millions of federal workers, including our military, will.
Rep. Gallego also introduced the Preserve Our National Security Act to preserve the salaries of all military and other national security personnel. This includes the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security including both Border Patrol Agents and Customs and Border Protection officers at entry points.
"I'm appalled that extremists would hold the government, many of its employees, and even our border security hostage all for the sake of politics," Gallego said. "My legislation would ensure that our Veterans and our security are not at risk should extremists succeed in shutting down the government."
These are two great bills worthy of passing through Congress quickly. Republicans have not left the Cruz ship yet, with House Republicans having just passed a bill attaching a delay to key parts of Obamacare to the budget.
Pete Gallego is powerfully representing the state and country's best interests, while Ted Cruz's ego brings us to the brink of government shutdown.
Read Rep. Gallego's full press release below the jump.