By Brian Besch
Congressman Morgan Luttrell stopped by Livingston Tuesday morning at Starbucks off Highway 190 to discuss his first eight months in Congress, and his priorities for the remainder of the year.The Republican from Willis serves 800,000 people in District 8 from the counties of Polk, Trinity, Houston, San Jacinto, Walker, Harris, Leon, Madison, Grimes and Montgomery.
He said the major issue in front of Congress once returning from August recess is the appropriations bill to keep government doors open. Appropriations bills are the 12 standard bills that cover funding for the federal government for a fiscal year, to be enacted into law by Oct. 1. It provides for operations, personnel, equipment and activities.
“We’ve only passed one (of the 12) so far before we left, and one of the promises that we made was that we will work to get all 12 passed before Oct. 1 and make sure we don’t have a government shutdown,” Luttrell said. “It is posing a challenge thus far, and as of right now I’m not supporting a C.R. (continuing resolution). They are going to have to come to the table, and negotiations are going to need to be had to decrease the spending, we are going to have to do something for our border, and that all has to come to fruition. We have a few weeks before Oct. 1 when we get back to let that happen. That is the No. 1 issue and priority right now. I have to report back once that happens, and I am hoping and praying that I get to come home and say we did it.”
In office since the beginning of the year, one concern his constituents have is the border. He described the situation as “overwhelming” and voiced concerns for fentanyl deaths and illegal migration.
“We are working with local leadership and law enforcement to navigate these difficult waters,” the congressman said. “With the administration and (United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro) Mayorkas not engaging the way they should be, there is this friction point between Texas and the United States that shouldn’t be happening. The United States is suing us right now because we are protecting our border. Come on, seriously? It is my job, and I am doing the best I can to show my colleagues both sides. I don’t care what you see on TV, there are members on the other side of the aisle that understand and appreciate what we are going through out here. They support the efforts — they do, you just don’t see it that often.”
Though he doesn’t feel there is resistance to finding a solution, he admits the current argument is what that solution should be.
“There are so many different opinions on how we should act. I have members that I work with that their parents were illegal immigrants and now they are members of Congress, so you can imagine their perspective. It is one of those things where you have to really feel the pressure before it becomes a really big deal. One of my colleagues broke out the immigration process and you couldn’t read it. It was mind-numbing. We have to lock each other in a room and say that we have to make a hard decision, and we have to get this done. I am pleasantly surprised that in (Washington) D.C., New York and Chicago, they are feeling it and I think they are starting to appreciate their small numbers as opposed to our large numbers.
“We have a spot in Liberty County that is 75,000-100,000 illegal immigrants. I did a flyover yesterday in a helicopter to see it. You can’t get your head around it. Myself and another member in the area are addressing that as aggressively as possible. We have to make sure we do it right.”
He called the buoys that have garnered so much attention in the Rio Grande River “a great idea.”
“I think we should stretch it from one end to the other. You know why it is a great idea? Because the United States is suing Texas. I wish we would have done it decades ago, and it is brilliant in my opinion. If they’re not going to help us protect, we are going to protect ourselves. With the appropriations bill coming back, one of our talking points is if you don’t put the border wall back in there, we’re not pushing this thing through. I honestly believe if it wasn’t called the ‘Trump wall,’ that thing would be up by now. I’m not even kidding. If you just called it a ‘barrier’ or a ‘southern barrier’ and it didn’t have President Trump’s name on it — that is how much the other side just does not like him. I had Secretary Mayorkas in my office. I asked him if he would come meet with me privately. He openly agreed that there needs to be barriers. (But), in the hearing, he said barriers do nothing. I said, ‘Buddy, you are talking to a guy that served in the military across the world in two wars. Let me tell you about barriers.’ When he got to my office, he didn’t call it the wall. He said barriers will have an effect.”
Luttrell said that the wall has not been built because it is a Republican issue. He also discussed veterans and the homeless dilemma. His issue with the United States pondering another $24 billion to Ukraine is that he believes the funds would better benefit those in the country.
“I’ve got brothers and sisters living on the street that fought for this country time and time again. We’ve got plenty of problems right here. I support Ukraine in a way that we should train and assist their military. We should provide them all the information that we can. You could be spending those billions of dollars here protecting our country, especially our veterans.”
Topics of conversation in Luttrell’s stops are generally focused on the border and upcoming election. Another is the president’s son.
“They are building this case in order to properly prosecute Hunter Biden,” he said. “If there is an impeachment inquiry that leadership put out, I support that 100%. They want to make sure — and this frustrates people sometimes and I understand why — because the previous administration weaponized impeachment. This leadership has made the inquiry in order to gather enough information so that you can’t refute it. We are going through proper procedures and with good order and discipline up there. Unfortunately, it takes time and I hope we have the majority in the next go so we can continue to do so.”
Finally, the congressman encouraged all of Polk County to get out and vote, pointing out that the numbers in the last election were low.
“This is a president cycle, so the numbers will grow, but the primary elections count. It makes a statement if Polk County comes out in its entirety. It tells not only the country, but the world to be careful when you go down there.”