WASHINGTON, D.C., August 5 - U.S. Representative Pete P. Gallego has invited House Speaker John Boehner to visit his district on the Texas-Mexico border.
Gallego, D-Alpine, has the largest district on the U.S.-Mexico border, stretching from El Paso to Eagle Pass. He wants the speaker to meet with community leaders and law enforcement agencies and assess for himself the current situation.
“At some point, someone needs to put partisan politics aside and reach across to find a real solution – a middle ground – where Democrats and Republicans can come together to solve the current situation on southern border. I’m happy to extend this invitation as a first step towards that solution," Gallego said.
“Speaker Boehner has a history of guiding folks toward eventual consensus. He controls what we vote on and how much input other members have on the process. Our communities on the border need the tools, infrastructure, personnel and resources to secure our border – and they need them fast."
Gallego believes that after failing to come up with the votes to pass a scaled back border aid package, the Republican majority in the House moved to pass a more extreme bill that does not address the core cause of the border crisis or provide adequate levels of funding requested by federal agencies working to secure and protect the southern border. He does not think the legislation has any chance of becoming law.
The House is now closed for five weeks while its members do constituency work. They are expected to return to Washington in September.
Gallego said issues on the border are always evolving. While much has been done, there is still much more to do, he argues. "It’s unfortunate no action was taken by the Congress. However, there will be no solution unless we all start talking to each other and working together."
Here is the text of the letter Gallgo sent to Boehner.
August 5, 2014
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
The U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
Shortly after the House and Senate came together for the first time in a very long time to pass a bipartisan VA reform bill, the House quickly reverted to partisanship to fail the American people once again in its handling of the crisis on the border. The interests and reputation of the House as an institution do not even seem to be a consideration for many members. The reputation of our chamber is at an all-time low.
Our branch of government, the legislative branch, makes laws and controls the power of the purse. It can and should be a force to be reckoned with. However, no party in our House has been "anointed" with any particular mandate. Thus, agreements on thorny issues will not be handed down on tablets from on high. They must be negotiated by Republicans and Democrats willing to sit at the same table at the same time.
I grew up on the border and know it well. The district I represent covers nearly 800 miles of border with Mexico. People along our nation's border want both safety and security. They also want trade and commerce. And, they desperately want us to come together to solve problems, not divide ourselves and further complicate the challenging issues we already face.
Because you, as the first among equals in the people's House, have more influence than most in the legislative process, I invite you to come to the Texas-Mexico border to join me in speaking to community leaders and the dedicated law enforcement working to protect our borders every day. This will give you an in-person view as well as firsthand, non-partisan and unvarnished representations of what is occurring on the border.
Many Members of Congress and others from across the country chose to come during the apex of the crisis. They came to the border for a short trip or photo op and proclaimed themselves experts. This is akin to visiting a hurricane while the storm still rages and distracting or attempting to take command of the first responders already on site.
Now, as the pressure on our border seems to be easing, is a better time to come. It has been reported that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border is dropping substantially. An average of 355 unaccompanied children crossed the Rio Grande every day in June. Over the first two weeks of July, this number dropped to an average of 150 migrant children per day.
As I told the White House during a Presidential visit to Texas, we don’t need photo ops; we need bipartisan help. Based on the proposals produced for House consideration last week, it’s clear that there was no bipartisanship involved in crafting the bills laid before the House. It's also clear that there is a basic misunderstanding of both the core causes of this crisis and a clear strategy to address it.
I was proud of the House when it came together to pass legislation reforming the Veterans Administration. I'd like to be proud of the House as it works to resolve what has been a very difficult issue for law enforcement and all those of us who live along the border. No fiery rhetoric. No inflammatory proposals. Just a common sense approach to solving a problem.
If the argument in the House is that the President cannot or should not take executive action, then someone else has to. It would seem logical that that "someone" should be the leader of the chamber closest to the people.
Throughout your tenure in the House, you have earned a reputation as a legislator who can find common ground in the most difficult of circumstances. I ask you to use that experience to guide the House towards a real and reasonable resolution of the border's current situation.
I represent approximately 42 percent of the entire U.S./Mexico border. I stand ready to share my experiences on the border and the perspective of the people I represent in order to address these critical issues. I hope you take me up on my offer to come visit.
Pete P. Gallego
Member of Congress (TX-23)