Moving Forward With The Harbor Bridge

Click above to watch a video mock-up of the new Harbor Bridge. (Courtesy of

After months of work, it looks like the last federal stumbling block to the new Harbor Bridge has been dealt with. On Feb. 3, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) entered into a letter agreement that moves the project forward. I have been working with TxDOT, the Port of Corpus Christi, federal agencies and President Trump’s team to make this happen.

In 2015, TxDOT and the FHWA entered into an agreement whereby TxDOT would implement several programs for residents of the Hillcrest neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas. Under the Acquisition Program, TxDOT will purchase eligible neighborhood properties whose owners wish to sell. Eligible residents of a purchased property (whether tenants, owners, or businesses) can then participate in the Relocation Program, under which they will receive financial assistance in relocating from the neighborhood. The terms of the programs fall under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

FHWA attempted to force TxDOT to pay housing benefits and relocation costs for those in the country illegally, which is a violation of federal and state law.

Texas state law prohibits TxDOT from making relocation payments to undocumented aliens. Under the Texas Property Code (Title 4, Sec. 21.046), a state agency may pay relocation benefits no greater than what federal relocation law specifies. Federal law (8 U.S. Code § 1611) directs that payments of relocation benefits to undocumented aliens be prohibited.

There was also an issue with payments beyond fair market value to landlords who did not live in the neighborhood that the agreement resolved.

This agreement marks the kind of cooperation states should be seeing with the federal government. I’m happy to have worked with TxDOT and the new Administration to move this forward quickly. This agreement is not only compliant with federal and state laws, but gets the much-needed Harbor Bridge project back on track

Repealing Obama-Era Regulations

During President Obama’s time in office, administration bureaucrats instituted many rules and regulations that were detrimental to the American people. Last week, I voted for several bills to to start undoing the damage of the last eight years. The House passed resolutions disapproving five regulations under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress 60 legislative days to disapprove and overrule a regulation with a simple majority of both the House and Senate before it will go into effect.

One of these rules that the House voted to roll back required the Social Security administration to report anyone with a mental disability to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System so they would have been barred from purchasing a firearm. This rule is so broad it would have stopped anyone who has simply appointed a representative to receive payments on their behalf. While I believe that people with dangerous mental illness should not be able to purchase firearms, this rule stereotypes people with even a mild disability as dangerous and would rob them of their Second Amendment rights.

Another rule the House voted to reject was the “Stream Protection Rule,” which created extremely strict guidelines that were not designed to protect streams, but to regulate the coal industry out of business. The Obama Administration’s war on coal has hurt millions of blue-collar, hard working Americans in states like West Virginia and Illinois.

This week the house plans to take up resolutions disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior relating to Bureau of Land Management regulations that establish the procedures used to prepare, revise, or amend land use plans pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and two Department of education regulations described in the “Expected Votes This Week” section of this newsletter.

Protecting Email Privacy

One of the challenges government faces is applying century’s old legal concepts, like the Fourth Amendment, to rapidly changing technology. This week, the House will be voting to pass the Email Privacy Act, which passed 419-0 last Congress, but never got a vote in the Senate.

Until the Email Privacy Act is signed into law, government access to email is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Under EPCA, a 1986 law, email left on an online server more than 180 days is considered abandoned and Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy in something that is abandoned.

Under the Email Privacy Act that I am a cosponsor and strong supporter of, people can move documents from their computer to their cloud storage without giving up their ownership or privacy to that information. It requires the government to obtain warrants rather than subpoenas to access emails that have been opened or are older than 180 days. The bill also requires the government to serve a copy of the warrant on the customer within 10 days of receipt of stored contents, except in some special circumstances.

The legislation also expands the definition of what is covered to include any service that provides storage or computer processing services, regardless of how incidental that storage or computer processing is. This is designed to protect customers’ information used on websites such as Uber, PayPal, banks, department stores, Starbucks, etc.

While all the technology changes happening today may cause people’s head to spin, the House has taken a big step in preserving Fourth Amendment rights and the intent of the framers of the Constitution.

@USTreasury just announced it will impose new sanctions on Iran b/c of missile test.
3 Feb 2017

.@POTUS made a smart move picking Gorsuch for SCOTUS. W/his resume, he will be a strong defender of the Constitution.
31Jan 2017

US-Israel cybersecurity cooperation is mutually beneficial and makes our nations stronger. #HR612
31 Jan 2017

#HR505 will improve the accountability of border security technology aquisition and strengthen our border.
31 Jan 2017

Opening prayer at National Prayer Breakfast to be led by former Corpus Christi Hooks player Ben Zobrist