Hurd on the Hill: Battling the Bureaucracy

June 1, 2015
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns

Imagine $300 to $1,000 disappearing from your paycheck, despite the fact that you were working the same number of hours you normally do. Your dedication and work habits have not changed. The rigors of the job have remained the same. You’ve done nothing to merit the decrease and have little ability to fix it. Frustrating. For some families, possibly devastating.

This is the situation that our brave Border Patrol Agents were facing, both here in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas and throughout the country.

In 2014, the Border Patrol Pay Act was passed in Congress, designed to modernize and streamline the overtime pay structure for these Agents, giving them more stability in the amount of their paychecks every pay period.

Unfortunately, the Washington bureaucrats that run the Department of Homeland Security decided to ignore the intention of the new law and instead opted to implement it in such a way that was not only going to decrease the Agents’ earnings, but also require many of them to repay overtime they had earned.

Let’s think about this situation for a moment. The lack of action by a bunch of Washington bureaucrats, sitting in air-conditioned offices in their comfortable office chairs, was going to negatively impact the livelihoods of courageous men and women who daily risk their lives in order to protect our communities and our nation.

Unacceptable.

Fortunately, before a decreased paycheck could be issued, this problem was solved.  Last month, my first bill became law. The bill forces DHS to implement the law as it was intended, protecting the paychecks of our brave Agents. It was a team effort to get this bipartisan legislation passed and I’m grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.  I came to Washington to find solutions and fix problems, and that’s exactly what this law does. That’s a great feeling.

Sadly, this is just one example of Americans battling against an ever-growing Washington bureaucracy.  Our local ranchers and farmers can tell you about the water regulations coming out of the EPA that threaten their family-run operations. Despite receiving over a million public comments from the stakeholders most affected, the White House just announced that they’re plowing ahead with their new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules that infringe upon private property rights and bring thousands of acres under federal jurisdiction.

Small business owners struggle daily to comply with red tape emanating from a variety of federal agencies that are not only confusing and conflicting, but will also cost the nation an estimated $1.9 trillion in 2015 in efforts to stay compliant, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

And then there are the individual interactions with federal bureaucracies such as Medicare, Social Security and Veterans Affairs.  This is what keeps me up at night. I still remember talking to the wife of one of our Veterans who explained that her husband had received notification that an injury received while serving our nation would no longer be recognized and therefore not eligible for treatment at a VA facility. What was the injury? He’d lost his leg! I was incredulous and asked, “Did his leg grow back or something?” I was, and still am, apalled. Unbelievable. 

This is why I’m in Washington. I want to fight the bureaucracy for the people who can't battle it on their own. I won’t always be able to get a law passed to solve a problem, but my staff and I are standing ready to help the people I represent cut through the mass of federal red tape or light a fire under a Washington bureaucrat in order to make sure folks get the benefits and responses they have earned and need.

If you need assistance, please visit my website to learn more about how we can help. www.Hurd.House.gov