U.S. Rep. Nehls briefs conservative group on legislative issues

SESHADRI KUMAR
Indo American Conservatives of Texas team members Ramesh Cherivirala, left, Swapan Dhairyawan, Troy Nehls, Radha Dixit, Nikita Khambe, Sujeet Draksharam and Madhu Sekeran. Photo by BIJAY DIXIT.
U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, (R-Tx-22) is working on extending the Grand Parkway in Fort Bend County on the south from U.S. 59 to SH 288 and beyond in Brazoria County, including a bridge across the Brazos River that would cost $440 million.

The road, also known as Highway 99 is already built from U.S. 59, connecting to I-45 in the north.

Nehls said he has been in talks with U.S. Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, both Democrats, to get federal funding and discussions are in preliminary stages.

Nehls was speaking on his first 100 days in Congress at a reception hosted by the Indo American Conservatives of Texas at India House in Houston on May 22.

After recalling the tumultuous day in Congress on Jan. 6, Nehls touched on some of the legislation he is working on and referred to the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

The infrastructure bill does not include funding for even one mile of road, he said.

Though that bill passed without the support of even a single Republican, the next bill to watch is the $2.3 trillion transportation and infrastructure bill.

“The American people would support transportation and infrastructure because it’s creating jobs. We’re all concerned about mobility and want to see roadways improved. Texas 22 is growing by leaps and bounds. So we want to improve our roads and we want to improve our alien infrastructure and that’s what I think transportation and infrastructure is all about but much of the 2.3 trillion dollars is nothing related to actual infrastructure,” he said.

“The Biden administration is talking about human infrastructure. I’m talking about concrete asphalt and rebar. That’s what I would like to see because we shouldn’t have to sell this bill to the American people; we present it to the American people.... Much of it goes to the green new deal and a lot of it goes to health related matters. It has nothing to do with actual transportation surface transportation, road and bridges,” Nehls said.

Nehls spoke about his brief encounter with President Joe Biden after his address to the joint session of the Congress and offered to work on a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill.

President Biden at his inauguration promised unity and talked about reaching across the other side of the aisle and coming together in the end for bipartisanship, but there is no bipartisanship right now, Nehls said.

“I don’t agree on ninety nine percent of everything but honestly if there’s just a little bit of light, a little sliver of light that we can actually do something for the American people instead of seeing just total gridlock, my god, that’s my responsibility to do that,” Nehls said.

On his offer to the President to work on criminal justice reform, as a follow up, one of the senior advisors contacted Nehls. Nehls is working on a bill with a Democrat, Val Demings from Florida, a former chief of police and law enforcement professional for 40 years.

This bill is called the SCORE second chance opportunities and will incorporate some of the programs started in Fort Bend County about teaching inmates technical skills, like welding, and HVAC, plumbing etc. These skill sets will be good for the non-violent inmates. Demings is co-sponsoring Nehls’ bill in the Senate and she is on the judiciary committee.

“So I think she can get this thing to judiciary. We get it over on the senate side and hopefully that will be passed,” Nehls said.

Nehls has filed another bill tapping the unspent earmarks to bring down the federal deficit. Earmarks have become a dirty word and they are used to remind of building bridges to nowhere.

Nehls said he realized that billions of dollars allocated earmarked for projects decades ago remained on the books and the projects have never started. That money cannot be spent on anything else. His initial research showed that there may be more than $2 billion in unspent earmarks and that may even add up to $4 billion.

If a project is 10 years old and the money has not been spent, it should be returned to the treasury for debt reduction, Nehls said. Again, he has a long way to go to actually enact the legislation.

Earlier, Radha Dixit, President of IACT, in her remarks said, IACT “wants to promote conservative principles and increase political awareness in the Indo-American community. We encourage conversations with anyone anytime anywhere, if it can help the conservative cause. Our vision goes beyond race, religion and ethnicity.

“We may hold different banners but we must remain steadfast and upholding our conservative beliefs which include minimum government, free market economy where you work for what you have, the belief and the right to life, the belief in law and order. And above all. Belief in God,” Dixit said.

Ramesh Cherivirala formally introduced the Congressman as one who is not a stranger to the Indian American community.

IACT Treasurer Swapan Dhairyawan thanked the many table sponsors and more than 100 members who attended the event.