Four federal lawmakers make appearance in El Paso

April 10, 2015
In The News

KVIA - Maria Garcia

POSTED: 05:22 PM MDT Apr 09, 2015  UPDATED: 05:41 PM MDT Apr 09, 2015 

In a rare opportunity, El Pasoans on Thursday heard from the four lawmakers representing the borderland in Congress.

The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce hosted the event called State of Congress with Republican Senator John Cornyn, Republican Congressmen Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Will Hurd who represents a district spanning from San Antonio to east El Paso County. Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke from El Paso was also there.

Although there are major policy differences among them, the four said they have all found common ground that benefits the region. "I've worked for example with congressman O'Rourke to work to try to get some emergency funding for infrastructure - bridges, roads, and the like and also staffing to help facilitate commerce across the border," said Cornyn.

Cornyn is an especially strategic ally for the lawmakers. He is the Republican whip in the Senate - second only to the GOPs Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

"Everything in Washington is political and the more consensus you can get across state lines, the better. When you approach things from a regional point of view in washington and you have regional solutions - if it's across state lines, it's better, if it's across party lines, it's even better," said Pearce. He and O'Rourke last year teamed up to introduce a bill that would require additional for Border Patrol agents so they protect border crossers constitutional rights.

"There are going to be some issues where we disagree, no doubt about it but on the core issues about El Paso: the VA, Fort Bliss, trade, the border - I think we're in lockstep," said O'Rourke. He mentioned the $16 million in additional funding to help veterans get access to doctors as a bipartisan effort that had all of their support.

Hurd said the recent change to medicare that allows seniors more access to doctors was also a bipartisan effort.

There has been significant disagreement on how to secure the border between the three republicans and Democratic O'Rourke. Republicans have long said immigration reform begins with more homeland security resources to protect the border. Though Hurd on Thursday said there is consensus on facilitating international trade. "We can secure the border and facilitate the movement of goods and services at the same time."

Hurd recently hosted two other Congressmen in a tour of the border, including Ciudad Juarez. "We need to make sure that other members who are passing laws that affect our communities and this region that they know it and see it themselves."

Another point they all agree on: ensuring Fort Bliss, Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range play vital roles in the military and in national security training.