By Sheila Gilmore
In one of the greatest upsets in this last election cycle, Republican Will Hurd won the race for U.S. Representative for District 23 over Democrat Pete Gallego.
It has been six weeks since he took the Oath of Office. Visiting Culberson County for the second time in the last three months, Representative Hurd was more than happy to sit down with me and tell me about his adventures so far.
Contrary to the spat of press insisting that business in Washington is not progressing, it seems that some really good things are happening, particularly in our District. Rep. Hurd is being utilized in several ways because of his experience as a CIA operative in the Middle East and South Asia and his expertise in technology as an advisor to a cyber-security firm. In addition, the Texas delegation in Washington is helping him get things done.
Who are you and what do you want your constituents to know about you?
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas as the baby of three in our family. My parents taught me to be honest, have a positive mental attitude, pray, and work hard. Iâ€™m currently single and consequently have a lot of time to travel and work in the district. In order to be available to my constituents, I have made [Washington] D.C. a weekly commute so that most weekends I am in the district. Problem solving is my objective. I have no interest in partisan politics and playing sides; instead, I want to identify the problems and work toward solutions.
After being in office as a freshman for only six weeks, is it what you expected it to be?
It involves a lot of handwringing. I was also surprised at the number of representatives who didnâ€™t seem to have an opinion on issues after 10 years being in office. In addition, it really amazed me at what a big deal it was to be appointed chair of a subcommittee as a freshman. Even though it has been only six weeks, Iâ€™ve been involved with several important issues. We are working on improving border security with legislation for a Border Security Pass in order to make trade and travel easier between borders. I also voted to go ahead with the Keystone Pipeline, which I believe is going to benefit much of Texas. We also voted for legislation to defund the presidentâ€™s executive action regarding illegal immigration.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Working with the individuals who need my help. It has been great to see a veteran get the benefits he or she deserves or to help an older woman get the Medicaid she needs. It has been especially satisfying to work on issues that I have been talking about for the last 20 months and helping citizens fight the bureaucracy.
Have you been named to any committees or subcommittees?
I am a member of two Committees: Homeland Security and Oversight and Government Reform. I was also appointed Vice-Chair of the Border and Maritime subcommittee and Chairman of the Information Technologies subcommittee. It means that I am working in the fields in which I have real world experience.
In order of priority, what would you like to see accomplished in your first year?
Number one: We have to pass a budget. Homeland Security depends on it. Number two: We have got to revise the tax code to encourage job growth and small business growth in Texas. Number three: We have to address border security. Improving our enforcement of current law and then amending law and creating procedures to make legal immigration easier, have to be done before we can really secure the border effectively. Then, we have to address cyber security and make sure that every citizenâ€™s private personal information is protected. The government spends $80 billion dollars a year on IT procurement and more than 80 percent of that is spent on out-of-date systems. We have to change that.
You represent one of the largest districts in the country. Will you implement field offices in our area with representatives to address your constituentsâ€™ needs?
We currently have offices in San Antonio and are setting up offices in Del Rio and El Paso. In addition, it is my goal to travel regularly and often to each of the 29 counties in my District so that I can personally meet with people and assist wherever I can. In other words, you will probably be seeing a lot more of me.
What is your position of the ever-growing threat of ISIS? Are you in favor of the U.S. sending ground troops to the ISIS-infiltrated regions or do you think itâ€™s the responsibility of the Arab countries to send their ground troops?
First, our goal must be total and complete destruction of ISIS for good. The growth of ISIS is not good for any of our partners in the Middle East. We cannot stand by and allow them to grow their territory. That said, we are not yet in a place where we, the United States, need to send our infantry into the region. Sending our own troops requires a lot more planning, strategy and careful thought than we have done to date. However, we must continue our air strikes and continue to support our partners in the region with their ground troops — training, intelligence, strategies, etc. In addition, it may require a Special Forces operation on the ground at some point.
Regarding partners in the Middle East, would you say that Israel is also one of those partners?
Absolutely. Israel is the single most important partner in that region and we need to make sure that our relations with them as allies stays strong. Until Iran can recognize Israel as a nation and agrees to dismantle its nuclear arms, we shouldnâ€™t even engage them. Lifting sanctions against Iran was a big mistake.
There are some in your district who are concerned about their Second Amendment rights. Can you comment?
We are working on a Reciprocity Act that would allow any who have concealed carry licenses to carry into other states that also have concealed carry laws.
Regarding education, many of our teachers have their hands tied trying to meet state mandated rubrics and consequently, they cannot teach. What do you think? Iâ€™d like to see more control of what happens in the classroom get into the hands of local districts and communities. Working on legislation toward that end is something Iâ€™d like to do.