D.C. Watch

October 28, 2021

Legislative News

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TAC Federal Outreach Holds First Congressional Meetings

TAC’s federal outreach team held its first meetings with members of the Texas congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27 and 28, visiting with the offices of U.S. Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso), Beth Van Duyne (R-Irving), Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), Collin Allred (D-Dallas) and Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), and Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Each of the state’s 36 House members and two senators received a letter from TAC Executive Director Susan M. Redford, copies of the 2021 TAC Legislative Analysis Report and the 2020 Unfunded Mandates Survey, and contact information for the TAC Legislative team.

In her letter, Redford shares TAC’s appreciation for the direct funding to Texas counties in the American Rescue Plan Act, support for future infrastructure legislation to help counties pay for much needed transportation renovation and repair, and support for broadband infrastructure investment. An excerpt from the letter.

American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319)

Texas counties are appreciative of the $5.6 billion in direct funding through the ARPA. Direct funding puts local leaders in a better position to more efficiently respond to community needs during the pandemic. These funds are especially vital to rural and medium-sized counties by allowing them to make needed investments in services and infrastructure that would otherwise be too costly. Still, some counties are hesitant to commit these funds without a final rule from the U.S. Treasury Department. Please encourage an expedited Final Rule from the Treasury so county governments have more definitive guidelines to initiate eligible projects in your district.

“Infrastructure Repair and Replacement, and Expanding Broadband Access

TAC supports investments in transportation improvements and modernization projects. Nationwide, counties maintain 44% or more than 1.8 million road miles, 38% or 229,529 bridges and 78% of all public transit systems. A federal partnership with states and counties to modernize aging infrastructure will create opportunities for Texas counties to adapt to future transportation needs and remain competitive in a global economy. As a leading exporter in several economic sectors, Texas will see an exponential return on every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure.  

“Broadband access is also a vital economic issue to all Texas counties. Bipartisan recognition of the ’digital divide‘ highlights this issue and TAC would ask that you and your colleagues continue to make every effort to invest in addressing broadband disparities.”

Redford also expressed TAC’s willingness and ability to be a resource to members of Congress and their staff on these and any other issues. TAC will remain in close contact with the Texas delegation as important federal initiatives affecting counties arise and will continue to inform TAC members of federal issues important to Texas counties.

For information about this article, please contact Austin McCarty.