Issues

Jobs, Opportunity, & The American Promise

In a city as great as Houston, it's devastating to know that our district is 32nd in household median income in the state, and one of the poorest districts in the country.

Poverty remains to be a big concern for far too many in Houston. I will support dignity for all Houstonians, and will seek to reduce poverty in the 18th Congressional District by supporting and sponsoring poverty reduction legislation. My priorities in the fight against poverty are as follows:

1.) I support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour so that all people who work full time will have the income to remain self-sufficient. I will also work to ensure that the minimum wage increases consistently with inflation.

2.) I support expanding the Housing Community Voucher program -- formerly Section 8 -- by $200 billion, so that people in desperate need of housing do not spend years waiting for a listing to open, then wait 3 to 4 more years for a spot in the program.

3.) I will fight to increase funding by $400 billion to assist in the building of more low income housing units.

4.) I will fight to ensure that data collected on poverty accurately reflects the struggles of Houston residents by using common sense income levels based on modern expenses to define poverty, rather than an outdated formula from the 1960s.

5.) I will fight to increase funding for programs such as the Second Chance Act Grant Program and the Workplace Opportunity Tax Credit Program, which help people exiting the criminal justice system to reintegrate into society, and I will strive to remove discrimination against persons who have served their debt to society.

I will fight also for greater equity in the fine and bail process in the Federal Court System.

6.) I support 'basic income' programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). I support expanding those programs to include credits for persons who are going to school, are working below the poverty line, or are engaged in other worthwhile activities while living in poverty.

I support basic accountability for those within these programs, better protection for those eligible for tax credits, and improved promotion of the program so that more eligible citizens may take advantage of it.

7.) I will fight to expand childcare coverage for low income families so that more parents can work without worrying endlessly about their children.

8.) I will fight for transportation funding to help people travel from their residence to their place of work.

9.) I will fight to expand the promotion of programs such as Head Start and SNAP so that more eligible persons can take advantage of them.

10.) Finally, I will fight to remove residential properties used in non-long term rental leases from eligibility for Federal programs, such as Fannie Mae.

Education

Education is the key to all opportunity, and we owe it to our children to give them every opportunity to succeed.

It is inexcusable that some schools in our community struggle to provide the education that every child deserves.

Today, there are 4 schools in Texas that potentially may be shut down due to being deemed "Improvement Required" (IR). 3 of those 4 schools are in District 18. This is unacceptable.

We need to provide adequate funding to all of our schools so they can hire good teachers, provide quality support from the state, and implement effective support programs for students. We need to reevaluate our basis for standardized testing to ensure that schools are tested fairly.

As your Congressman, I will take strong action to help ensure that our education system works for all of the residents of the 18th Congressional District, and provides equitable access for our residents to obtain the skills and preparation they need to compete and thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s economies and workforces.

My priorities for Federal support include the following:

1.) I will work to provide stronger Federal support for primary, middle school and secondary education, with a specific focus on providing Federal funding for support services to pay teachers competitively, and for programs that help students stay in school and keep up with their peers academically.

2.) I recognize that charter schools may represent a last resort choice for parents frustrated with an inappropriate, underfunded, or underperforming school system. I would prefer that our public schools be funded adequately with the resources they need to succeed.

In such cases when charter schools seem to be the only option, the following conditions should be met:

Those charter schools should not be able to discriminate on basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or social standing. They should be able to prove that they do not harm the existing public school system, and should be subject to the same worker and student protections as the public schools they compete with -- including the right to collective bargaining for charter school employees at schools largely funded by the taxpayer.

3.) I believe that language, reading and mathematical skills are critical to success, and will fight for increased Federal support for those areas in primary and secondary education. These curriculums should be challenging, intensive, and competitive, while remaining inclusive, comprehensive, and and relevant.

Funding for bilingual education is also critical to the success of the diverse student body in the 18th Congressional District, as well as throughout the United States. It is time to combat the stigma that intelligence is associated with knowing English, and to help multilingual students succeed in school and the workplace.

4.) Teachers should be able to write off qualified expenditures on education as an offset to their tax liability -- instead of a deduction -- so that they aren’t ‘paying out of pocket’ for as many of the expenditures they spend on classroom amenities and school supplies as they are now.

We must also work to require fully stocked classrooms which meet the needs of students and teachers, so that the problem above diminishes.

5.) I will fight for increased funding to reduce the percentage of students dropping out of high school prior to graduation. I will work to include appropriate partnerships with community colleges, vocational schools, and other groups to help make our high school education relevant to more of our residents. Many students believe college is simply not an option. By exposing them to these resources, and demonstrating that such an opportunity is not beyond their reach, dropout rates will decrease drastically.

6.) I will fight to keep our schools and colleges open to all of our residents, regardless of immigration status.

7.) I will strongly support cost effective methods to make college more affordable for our residents, with an ultimate goal of providing every student in the 18th District with a free college or vocational placement at a public college. I will fight against the rise in tuition and related fees that make college less affordable. I will push to achieve equity for all in educational policy, to put an end to financial discrimination within the education system.

8.) Finally, I will support methods to increase funding and support for public vocational/technical schools.

Healthcare

Providing access to affordable healthcare to everyone in our community is vital to the success of our city.

Currently, 20% of our neighbors live without healthcare. I plan to implement a fair, affordable, and optional healthcare plan which will allow everyone the opportunity the be covered. No one should be denied the opportunity of healthcare simply because they can't afford it.

Access to affordable high quality healthcare is a significant concern for Houston's families. As

your Congressman, I will fight to ensure that high quality healthcare is available and accessible

for every single American. I will also work to ensure that Texas expands Medicare as intended by the Affordable Care Act, and that all Texans are covered by affordable programs that provide healthcare.

1.) I will fight to enact legislation allowing all persons to join Medicare in return for a means-based premium.

2.) I will demand that the government negotiate fair prices for pharmaceuticals, ban excess consumer marketing for FDA-approved drugs, reform our patent system to incentivize appropriate pricing, and require that the government retain ownership of drugs largely developed with taxpayer research dollars.

3.) I will expand premium subsidies for middle class families.

4.) I will ensure that balance billing ends, and will introduce legislation that bans doctors outside of the Medicare system from using taxpayer funded workplaces and hospitals.

5.) I will ensure that excess premiums paid for insurance reserves remain with the persons that paid those reserves, and will ban any profit or bonus structures for insurance providers based upon those reserves.

6.) I will fight to ensure that the people of the 18th Congressional district have access to healthcare, by expanding funding for medical professionals that serve Medicare/Medicaid/exchange consumers.

7.) I will ban research funding for institutions and hospitals that refuse to negotiate in good faith with the government.

8) I will ban discrimination in healthcare, including both in employment and treatment.

Flood Mitigation & Infrastructure

We're all to familiar with flooding issues in Houston. It's time to build a safer community so that...

no one has to live in fear of homes and livelihoods being destroyed each time it rains.

In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison flooded our community. We had the Tax Day Flood in 2016, the 2015 Memorial Day Flood, and Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Each storm shut down our city, and forced people from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and a bag full of all the belongings they could gather. We've passed a bond, and some money is slowly coming to our community, but that’s only a fraction of what’s needed. I am prepared to work relentlessly with members of congress to bring the money our region needs for long term flood mitigation infrastructure.

Fighting the Flooding Threat in Houston

Flooding remains one of the biggest concerns in the Houston area. As your Congressman, I will make flooding my biggest priority, and will seek common sense solutions that help our communities prepare for future flooding, mitigate the impact of flooding, and will help our community recover from future disasters in a manner that is equitable, cost effective, and timely. My policy proposals with regard to flooding include:

1.) The flooding threat requires a coordinated regional response. In cases such when regional entities cannot or will not cooperate in disaster planning/response/recovery, infrastructure, or floodplain management, the Federal Government must become involved. As your Congressman, I will promote requirements that mandate that all federal funding for development in the Greater Houston Area be subject to an environmental impact review procedure to ensure that the impact of that taxpayer-funded projects doesn’t negatively impact existing residents in the same watersheds. I will also demand that entities funded by the Federal Government cooperate in meeting the flooding threat in a manner that is equitable to existing residents.

2.) I believe that a proper response to the flooding threat includes support for flooding infrastructure projects that mitigate the impact of coastal and bayou flooding, as well as conserving critical watershed green spaces that help our bayous manage flooding.

3.) I will fight to protect vulnerable communities by supporting legislation mandating that ICE and CBP enforcement procedures be suspended within a 200 mile radius of a declared disaster zone. Regardless of politics, human life and safety comes first.

4.) I will support providing funding for comprehensive evacuation, disaster recovery, and shelter plans that include all residents, with a particular emphasis on marginalized communities.

Immigration

I plan to implement a comprehensive reformation on immigration, including ...

providing a sensible path to citizenship, restructuring asylum and visa programs, providing support to neighboring countries, and funding technologically modern solutions for border security.

1.) We need to offer a viable path to citizenship for all DACA, DAPA, and TPS immigrants, as well as their immediate families. Then we need to dramatically reevaluate our pathway to citizenship to ensure it is a swift, fair, and manageable process. The sooner we accomplish this, the sooner we end the conflict of illegal immigration.

2.) We need to work with the countries from which immigrants are fleeing, and get to the bottom of why they are leaving. If we can support them, and work to improve quality of life, people will be less likely to risk their lives to enter our nation.

3.) We need modern solutions to modern issues. Simply pouring billions of dollars into a wall will not bring the issue of immigration to an end. We need to implement the most up to date technologies for safe, reasonable, and effective measures of keeping our border secure.

Gun Reform

Every year, an average of 36,383 people are killed as a result of gun violence, and another 100,120 are injured.

As easy as it is to let our minds go to mass shootings, the simple fact is that gun death and injury is just as detrimental on an individual level.

22,274 people die of suicide by gun each year, the next highest being intentional homicide at 12,830. We need to implement the following steps to ensure the safety and quality of life of our citizens:

1.) I will demand a review of red flag laws.

2.) I will fight to require background checks for every firearm sale.

3.) I will work to ban weapons of war.

4.) I will fight for legislation which requires and ensures safe gun storage.

5.) I will close the "boyfriend" loophole, and ensure that historically abusive partners in relationships do

not have access to firearms.

6.) My legislation will require waiting periods for firearm purchases in order to prevent rash and violent behavior.

7.) I plan to implement programs which provide and promote firearm education and safety.

8.) We must also provide support services for people impacted by gun violence, and for those whose mental health challenges may lead them to violent actions.

Civil Rights and Equality

An unwavering commitment to inclusion, equity, access, and non-discrimination.

We all do better when we help everyone participate fully in the American society we all share. That’s why I fully support a policy-driven agenda to ensure that all people, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, economic status, gender, gender identity, national origin, place of birth, age, disability, veteran status, or other demographic identity are protected from discrimination. As your Congressman, I will fight to enact legislation and policy initiatives that ensure that all are protected and all are able to participate. My support for equality includes my commitment to the following initiatives:

1.) I will fully seek to advance representation and inclusion in decision making because we get the best answers when we listen to the perspectives of everyone.

2.) I fully support the renewal of all existing Civil Rights Laws, including a renewed focus on preserving and improving the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act.

3.) I fully support legislation banning discrimination in private commercial, government contracting/commerce, education, employment, housing, or public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, marital status, and gender identity. That support includes full and active support of a fully inclusive Equality Act.

4.) I will work to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not spent to promote or fund entities that engage in discrimination

I will oppose funding groups engaged in discrimination with foreign aid, and will support foreign policy initiatives that place a high priority on expanding/protecting the rights of minorities in other countries.

5.) I support appropriate measurement, prosecution, legislation, and leadership on the issue of bias-based violence.

6.) I will strive to combat attempts by any actor in society to use demographic based pricing to effectively favor one demographic group over another.

7.) I will work to ensure that in addition to equality, that equity considerations are part of my advocacy.

8.) I will work relentlessly to maintain and protect a woman’s right to choose medical decisions for themselves.

9.) I will be present in our communities, and will strive to be responsive to the needs of the communities that make up the 18th District, and the United States, to preserve the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and ensure that we remain the land of freedom and opportunity.

Environment & Energy

Houston is the world's fuel capitol. It is also a city at risk from environmental factors such as flooding, hurricanes, and other climate-based consequences. If Houston is capable enough to power the world, it is capable enough to power a balanced -- scientifically sound -- solution, that provides the power we need for our economy without degrading and devastating the environment, and contributing to global warming. My proposals for energy and the environment include the following:

1.) Our nation must reenter the Paris Agreement. I believe scientists when they say that climate change is real, and that man-made factors contribute to it. That’s why I will provide full support for common sense environmental proposals and adherence to the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

2.) We must provide support for a scientifically sound policy on global warming.

3.) I will require that entities involved in fracking disclose all chemicals injected into the water table, and accept full liability for damage caused to the water table or soil.

4.) I will advocate for price supports for green energy alternatives.

5.) We must provide support for research and development funds for green energy, with the government retaining partial ownership of technologies developed with taxpayer dollars.

6.) I will support and fight for a Houston-based, green energy R&D facility to help design the renewable energy technologies of the future. This proposal would include R&D funding for solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.

7.) I will oppose subsidies for pollutants like coal.

8.) I will oppose the expansion of offshore oil drilling, extraction on federal lands, condemnation of tribal lands for energy extraction, and expansion of US energy infrastructure to assist other nations to export pollutants.

9.) I will support efforts to implement and enforce cap and trade requirements.

10.) I will support legislation that reprimands foreign entities that commit extreme violations of the environment with travel bans and sanctions.

11.) I will stand behind a foreign policy that ties US relationships to cooperation on climate issues.

12.) I will fight for a moratorium on the manufacture, storage, or use of volatile substances near residential housing. I will propose legislation to study the appropriate buffer from residential housing for storage or use of volatile substances, require the licensing, inspection, and periodic licensing renewal for holders of volatile substances, and impose significant financial penalties for violations of safety regulations.