By Congressman William Hurd
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of welcoming Pope Francis of the Holy See to the United States of America.
Not only was this the Popeâ€™s first trip to the U.S., it was also the first time in history that a Pope addressed a joint session of the United States Congress. Washington was jubilant and united, and the historic visit was symbolic for many reasons.
The Popeâ€™s address reminded me that the job of elected officials is to serve the greater good and the needs of those who we represent. Congress is most productive in serving these ideals when it works together.
Pope Francis said that “building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.â€ Itâ€™s this spirit of solidarity that Congress often lacks despite so many instances of successful legislation that have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyday Americans.
In the 114th Congress, one of these instances that truly reformed a broken system was the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The bill permanently repealed the dysfunctional formula for Medicare physician payments â€“ which had been incentivizing doctors to stop taking Medicare patients for years.
This was the first entitlement reform to be signed into law in several decades. Included in the agreement was funding for the dozens of community health centers in our districtâ€™s underserved areas. It was a win for all Texans, especially those who live in rural areas with already-limited access to quality healthcare providers.
The two bills that I introduced and have been signed into law are also examples of how our nation benefits when we cooperate for the greater good.
The first was the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act which ensures complete paychecks for the hardworking Border Patrol Agents in South and West Texas.
The second was the DHS IT Duplication Reduction Act which will save millions of taxpayer dollars in the long-term by making government more efficient. The bipartisan success of these bills is greatly attributed to finding common-ground in an increasingly divided Congress, so that together we can fulfil our ultimate goal of serving our fellow Americans.
Just as His Holiness reminded us, “The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States,â€ I believe by focusing on the things we agree on, like taking care of our men and women in uniform, ensuring Veterans get the care they deserve and making government more effective and efficient, we can dramatically improve our productivity as legislators.
I hope that a renewed spirit of cooperation and solidarity takes hold, so we can continue to find reforms that we do agree on. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop legislation that benefits our district, our state and our nation.