U.S. House of Representatives
As many of you know, this is an exciting time for your representatives on Capitol Hill. During the Budget and Appropriations cycle, we have an opportunity to prioritize our investments in critical programs that will respond to our nation’s economic and security challenges, both now and in the future. Each day, we receive thousands of phone calls and meet with dozens of engaged constituents and stakeholders from our districts who are concerned with our nation’s economic progress. I have heard from thousands of District 30 residents, who have called my office, sent emails and made in-person visits to my offices. I understand your concerns; I feel the passion with which you discuss the importance of creating jobs, improving schools, building communities, supporting our veterans, and protecting our environment. I agree that we should pass a budget that will encourage innovation, support the poor and middle class, expand access to high-quality public education for our children, and strengthen our nation’s workforce.
There are a number of programs that are vital to our nation’s economic security. Social Security is one of those programs. Social Security retirement income serves as a financial safety net for millions of deserving seniors, who are able to maintain their independence and their dignity after retiring from the workforce. My goal is to strengthen the Social Security trust fund. I will fight any effort to dismantle, privatize or otherwise weaken it.
The president’s fiscal year 2017 budget includes $49 million for DART’s Red and Blue Line platform extension project that will expand capacity at these stations and reduce congestion in the DART system.
In October of last year, I lobbied the Federal Transit Administration to have the funds awarded. I will fight to ensure that full funding for the Capital Investment Grants program, $3.5 billion, remains in the appropriations package that is adopted by Congress. Doing so will ensure that DART is able to accommodate the growing population in North Texas, while providing people with reliable transportation options.
Along with the other Congressional Lupus Caucus co-chairs, I have requested $6.5 million to fund the National Lupus Patient Registry Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and $2 million for the National Health Education Lupus Program at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. For the first time, the co-chairs and I are also asking for a specific Lupus Medical Research Program under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at the Department of Defense.
TIGER is an important discretionary grant program that provides federal funding for capital investments for state and local surface transportation projects. Currently, the program is funded at $500 million. Recognizing the importance of bringing additional discretionary dollars to the 30th District and the surrounding region, I will request that the Appropriations Committee match the president’s request of $1.25 billion for the program in fiscal year 2017.
The growing income gap between the haves and the have-nots in our country is disgraceful, and must be fixed. Since the 1970s we have witnessed a dangerous trend develop with stagnant wage growth for middle and low-income households. This is unacceptable and I will work to change it.
The budget we put forth should make our nation stronger and our future brighter. It should expand opportunities for all Americans, not just the privileged few. I will not relent in our fight to safeguard these and many more necessary programs to achieve these goals. We must support efforts that will inspire our children to dream, close opportunity gaps, and support those who make incomparable sacrifices for the security of our nation.
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.