Members of the House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth held a field hearing in the Rio Grande Valley on June 17. The committee was formed last year. This was the first congressional field hearing of any kind held during this session of congress. The committee came to see problems with infrastructure along the southern border. Republican members of the committee accuse Democrat members of refusing to tour the border while they were there.
The House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth traveled to South Texas for the first field hearing at the southern border of this Congress. The full committee heard from locals who live in ‘colonias,’ unincorporated communities that still often don’t have basic amenities like running water, paved roads or concrete foundations under their homes.
DailyMail.com viewed the full committee hearing and participated a nighttime ride-along tour and a daytime boat tour of the Rio Grande with border agents and Republican members of the committee, but Democrats did not tour the facilities.
‘We’re here at the behest of the Democrats, they chose a select hearing in the field at the border, but they don’t want to talk about the border. They want to talk about green energy and infrastructure,’ Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., told DailyMail.com.
During the field hearing, Democrats and Republicans took time to hear from local residents of colonias in Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez’s district who talked about flooding issues faced by South Texas, where due to insufficient drainage structure residents said their own homes would often take on water and the streets outside would be flooded for three days even with mild storms.
Rep. Gonzalez, who is running for re-election, hopes to make the case for additional money for infrastructure in the colonias. Community leaders say they will need $600M to resolve drainage issues. After Republicans complained that the field hearing didn’t include addressing the open southern border problems, Gonzalez apologized to his constituents that some of his colleagues were campaigning instead of working on solutions for the area. How rich. Gonzalez has been in the House for several terms and is only now successfully getting attention to the needs of his district. The colonias have been an issue for decades and living conditions are well-known to Texans. Is Gonzalez suddenly worried that the Rio Grande Valley is going Republican?
“It was anticipated that that might happen.” said Rep. Gonzalez after the committee hearing, “And unfortunately, it did. And that’s what got us divided in Washington and that’s why things aren’t getting done. And we have rogue members on the other side of the aisle that just don’t care about communities like ours.”
Rep. Jodey Arrington, (R-TX), equated the Rio Grande Valley to Ukraine, “we are at ground zero of the worst humanitarian public safety and security crisis in the history of our country. And we’re talking about roads and bridges. I’d love to have the conversation. But that would be like us going to Ukraine and having a hearing about fixing the potholes in the street while the Russians are waging war on their citizens.”
Gonzalez admits he knew what would happen. He just wanted the drama. Democrats have no intention of working to secure the southern border. One Republican member of the committee said both infrastructure and border security should have been on the agenda.
Before they departed, ranking GOP committee member Bryan Steil, of Wisconsin, told Border Report that border security is directly tied to the economic outcome.
“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Steil said. “All of this is tied together. When a community is not able to use the resources to address the challenges that they face any given day and instead they’re forced to use those resources to address an unsecured border that hurts everybody including the least amongst us.”
Steil said during the morning congressional hearing that the bipartisan committee heard from a resident and local leaders about the costs associated with thousands of immigrants coming across the border illegally.
Maybe next time Rep. Gonzalez invites the committee to his district he will allow a real hearing to happen. This one was all for show and nothing will come of it.