OPINION

Congressional Updates: Addressing the crises in our country

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes

Each month I want to provide you with regular updates about what’s going on in our nation’s capital and throughout the 4th District of Kansas. Here’s what happened in May.

Touring Our Southern Border

In the month of May I toured the crisis at our southern border — something President Biden and Vice President Harris have refused to do or acknowledge.

First, let me share some positive news. We have excellent men and women in Customs and Border Protection who are tirelessly working to keep this country safe. The CBP helps to ensure that we have safe, legal immigration while enforcing our laws and keeping bad actors out of our country.

However, the bad news is they are working under crisis conditions — with the Biden administration’s policies encouraging illegal immigration, ending border wall construction and reversing common sense actions from the Trump administration.

In one of the sections I toured, the fence that has been constructed is not connected. Border Patrol agents must monitor the gap to prevent illegal crossing. If the fence were completed, resources used to monitor this area could be put to better use. The materials to finish the project are already on site but are not being used due to President Biden’s termination of border construction. Materials purchased by your tax dollars are stacked on the ground while your tax dollars also pay for more patrol agents to monitor those unfinished gaps.

It’s like paying for new roofing materials for a house and then paying people to stand on top with umbrellas instead of actually installing the roof.

We also witnessed the apprehension of coyotes — or smugglers — who were using a Romanian family to sneak another man across the border. This occurred in another gap in the fence.

We know our immigration system is broken — I’ve been an advocate in Congress for more border security, which includes more agents, enhanced technology, closing loopholes and a barrier along our southern border where it makes sense. Under President Trump, we started to accomplish some of those items and make progress toward fixing a broken system.

In 2018, Republicans had a good bill that would have been a significant step forward in solving some of these immigration issues, but, unfortunately, it did not pass. Unlike some in Congress who want to use immigration as a talking point, I’ve worked with my colleagues to adopt good policy that addresses legal and illegal immigration. According to Pew Research Center, “The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world.” That’s part of who we are as Americans. We need to ensure we have the right tools and processes for legal immigration and the best means to deter illegal immigration.

As a member of the Border Security Caucus, I recognize the many challenges that threaten our national security, and that we need common sense policy.

Encouraging a Return to Work

It’s been more than a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and five months since the first dose of the vaccine was administered. With restrictions lifting, we are seeing a return to normalcy and new available jobs.

I’ve never seen so many “now hiring” signs around Kansas.

April’s jobs report showed Biden’s unemployment bonus is stunting our recovery. That’s why my Kansas Republican colleagues and I called on Gov. Kelly to opt out of this program as other states have done. We need more workers!

Additional assistance was necessary at the height of the pandemic when many folks were unemployed at no fault of their own, and those still waiting on benefits deserve to be paid. Now that we have vaccines, treatment options and available jobs, it’s time to get Kansas back to work.

Taxpayer Superhero

Cutting wasteful spending and using taxpayers’ money efficiently is a top priority.

Too often, the government uses your tax dollars to fund ineffective programs. This is why I’m honored to once again be recognized as a Taxpayer Superhero by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste with a 100% score. This nonpartisan organization “identifies members whose voting records helped protect taxpayer dollars, as well as those who consistently voted against their interests.”

I’m grateful to be joined on this list by 90 of my colleagues in the House and Senate. Together, we are working toward fiscal responsibility in Congress.

Standing with Israel

It's been devastating to see the horrific attacks on Israel by Hamas. As a nation, we need to show our support for one of our closest allies and condemn these acts of terrorism. I joined more than 60 of my colleagues in introducing a resolution condemning these heinous acts.

Electric Vehicles

Democrats recently conducted a hearing to talk about “infrastructure,” but it was really about ways to raise taxes on Americans and fund Green New Deal initiatives.

One item they are interested in funding: $174 billion for electric vehicle tax credits and incentives. That’s more than their plan has for roads and bridges — and more than most state budgets.

While there’s nothing wrong with owning an electric vehicle, there is a problem with your tax dollars helping wealthy Californians double-dip in tax credits and also forcing the government to purchase more EVs.

I’ve introduced two bills that are aimed at saving taxpayer funds and closing EV loopholes that benefit wealthy Americans.

The No Subsidies for Government Purchases of Electric Vehicles Act eliminates the ability for the seller of a qualifying EV to claim an unnecessary tax credit when the purchaser is an entity or representative of the federal or a state government. The Close the Double Subsidy Loophole for Electric Vehicles Act prevents wealthy Americans from double dipping in federal and state EV subsidies.

Hardworking Kansas families, who are dealing with rising prices on most household goods, don’t want to subsidize wealthy Americans to buy a Tesla or to pay for the federal government to purchase electric cars.

Connect with Me

Interested in receiving regular updates about what’s going on in Congress? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter at estes.house.gov and please don’t hesitate to reach out to my District Office in Wichita at 316-262-8992 if you have questions, concerns or need help with a federal agency.

Ron Estes, one of only a handful of engineers in Congress, worked in the aerospace, energy and manufacturing sectors before representing Kansas’ 4th Congressional District since 2017. He is a fifth-generation Kansan, former state treasurer, and serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Joint Economic Committee.