By Karen Daniels
Last Friday, August 23, Congressman Al Green was in town to touch base with his constituents and provide a legislative update. The Congressman is serving his 5th term in the 9th Congressional District of the House of Representatives. He currently serves on the Financial Services Committee, and within the Democratic Party, he holds the position of Assistant Whip.
Mayor Leonard Scarcella made his introduction with a story of Congressman Green’s help with the 2008 Hurricane Ike aftermath. “Because of that, we will be ready for the next emergency. This is the type of Congressman that Al Green is.”
The Congressman spoke about several pieces of legislature that he has worked on that benefits veterans. He said, “If we can spend one trillion dollars to send these kids to fight for our freedom, we can spend one trillion to help them when they return home.” Homes for Heroes Act H.R.3298 is to ensure fair access to housing for veterans and establish a Special Assistant for Veterans Affairs within HUD. The newly introduced Haven Act H.R.385 directs the Secretary of HUD to establish a pilot program to award grants to nonprofit organizations that primarily serve veterans or low-income individuals. This was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services in January 2013.
On issues that effect Stafford residents, such as a grocery store, the Congressman stated that once he receives a consensus from Mayor Scarcella and City Council, he will reach out to area grocery stores. A resident, Jim Vogel, asked for help with coverage from the insurance companies. His wife was diagnosed with Lyme disease, but only allowed a 30-day supply of antibiotics. Each month costs them $1,800 out-of-pocket. This led to the discussion of healthcare. The Congressman told Mr. Vogel that starting in October he can sign up for the Affordable Care Act (Jan/2014) to select and purchase an insurance policy that better suits his family’s needs. “Healthcare should not become wealthcare.”
A repeated question that Congressman Green hears is: Why can’t Congress get along? His response was essentially one word: earmarks. The elimination of earmarks no longer allows Congress to negotiate with one another and help other communities. Congressman Green said that earmarks were “the glue that held us together.”