VideoRep. Gonzalez thanks ranking member DeLauro for helping him secure $20 million in earmarks

Congressman Vicente Gonzalez says he likes to use funding from earmarks for quality of life projects, such as improving drainage in low-income neighborhoods, and restoring VFW halls.

HARLINGEN, Texas – U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez held a press conference at Harlingen City Hall recently to announce funding for various quality of life projects he has been working on, and to go over his remaining priorities for the current Congress. 

Interviewed afterwards by the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Gonzalez said a lot of credit for the $20 million in earmarks he has secured this year should go do U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. DeLauro is the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee.

“Congresswoman Rosa DeLaura has done amazing work in helping me bring resources in terms of earmarks for South Texas infrastructure. She’s a ranking member, she’s visited South Texas, she knows that we’re a community in greater need than other places in the country. And she’s helped look out for us,” Gonzalez said.

“She was a chairwoman when we (Democrats) were in the majority she will probably be the chairwoman next term, when we take back the House. It is great to have her there because she’s a good friend of South Texas.”

Gonzalez said DeLauro has been to the Texas-Mexico border region many times.

“She was here when Nancy Pelosi came down. She really cares about the border and she’ll call me when it is earmark time, when these community projects are being funded. She will say, what do you need?” Gonzalez explained.

Gonzalez said House members do not get an equal amount of money for earmarks. He said members sometimes have to cajole the chairs of key committees and subcommittees to secure funding.

He said some Republicans, like a certain member representing the Corpus Christi region, ran for election on a campaign against earmarks and will not take them. They feel “pork barrel projects” should be eliminated.

“One time they were only offering us about a third to a half of what we were asking for. We just had to push and squeeze and go to members on the other side of the aisle that are on those key subcommittees and say, hey, please help us out here.”

Gonzalez said this time around he has brought in $20 million in earmarks. “We’ve brought in, for the big infrastructure projects, much more than that, but these are like projects that I get to choose.”

Gonzalez said when it comes to earmarks, he concentrates his efforts on certain areas,

“I’m trying to invest them in places that make a difference in the lives of people, that impact quality of life. Like VFWs, like hike and bike trails, like flooding in poor neighborhoods, and projects for low income neighborhoods. Studies show that if you have a walk and bike trail, you lower diabetes by 20 percent. We have a lot of diabetes in this region. And a lot of the places that don’t have a walk and bike trail are low income communities. So I’m going into those communities. And I’m trying to create I’m building a water retention pond which helps for flooding and then I’ll build a track around it.”

Asked for some exampled, Gonzalez pointed to a particular drainage project in Edinburg and restoring a few VFW halls to their former glory. “We did a Boys and Girls Club in Weslaco. We did about $2.5 million there. And we did one in McAllen. So I’m investing the money in places people feel it.”

Asked how he manages to stretch $20 million over so many projects, Gonzalez said: “We spend two million here, three million there. We spend about 850 grand for the VFWs. And 850,000 for the water retention pond in Edcouch. In Combes, we’re fixing their drainage problem with a half a million dollars. Some of them are more expensive – that water treatment plant in San Benito. That’s a major problem. We got them a million dollars to try to get that operational.”

Gonzalez added: “We want people having safe places to walk and safe water to drink and hopefully some places to enjoy.”

Editor’s Note: Here is a video recording of Rep. Gonzalez’s press conference in Harlingen:

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