South Texas congressmen sworn in

Reopening of gov’t to be focus of local delegation

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi administers the House oath of office to Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, with his wife Lorena at his side, during a ceremonial swearing-in on Capitol Hill on Thursday in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Following an en masse oath of office, Reps. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, were sworn into the 116th Congress on Thursday.

After the ceremonies, the congressmen expressed their desire to begin the 116th Congress by reopening the government agencies that had been shuttered do to the most recent government shutdown, which began Dec. 21, according to a news release.

Gonzalez, who returns for his second term in the House, said he was ready to get to work and “deliver for the great people of the 15th District of Texas,” the release states.

“In the 116th Congress, we will put an end to this dog and pony show and get the federal government back to work for the people,” Gonzalez said. “It is crucial that my fellow colleagues recognize the need to: pass a long-term appropriations package that funds effective border security strategies, and rejects funds for a border wall.”

The representative from McAllen also said he would continue to advocate for deported veterans, improve benefits for all former military service members; push for lower prescription drug prices; find a consensus on free trade agreements that benefit economies across the U.S.; ensure that farm operators and ranchers are provided sufficient resources to thrive; and eliminate “the partisan divide that has dominated the past two years.”

Cuellar, who has served in Congress since 2005, echoed Gonzalez’s commitment to push forth the wishes of his constituents.

“As Democrats head into a new majority in the House, my colleagues and I ready to hit the ground running— we are prepared to reopen government, enact full-year appropriations, and make sure that the federal government continues to stay open year after year,” Cuellar said. “They deserve good jobs, affordable education and quality healthcare and I stand ready to get to work right away.”

Vela, serving in the House since 2013, said he is also focused on ending the shutdown that is in its second week.

“…The hundreds of thousands of federal workers who were forced to go without pay over the holidays deserve better,” Vela said. “I look forward to working alongside Reps. Cuellar and Gonzalez as we fight for South Texas. Improving infrastructure, protecting agricultural programs, and fighting to prevent the President’s ineffective and wasteful border wall are among my highest priorities. I am proud to be one of South Texas’ voices in Washington, and I am ready for that voice to be heard.”

Vela announced Wednesday that he planned on proposing a $4 billion bill to fund border security at the nation’s ports of entry, where a majority of the illicit drugs smuggled into the U.S. pass through daily.

Performed by new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the congressmen each took part in individual swearing-in ceremony at the United States Capitol around noon.

It’s the first time Democrats hold majority control in the House of Representatives since 2011.