[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E177]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      HONORING HOMETOWN HEROES ACT


                               speech of

                            HON. GENE GREEN

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, February 8, 2018

  Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the 
Bipartisan Budget Act, H.R. 1892, which will provide much needed 
federal funding to help Houston and Harris County rebuild from the 
devastation of Hurricane Harvey, reauthorize several critical health 
programs, and keeps the federal government open through March 23.
  Hurricane Harvey's destruction was beyond anything witnessed in 
living memory in Texas. A record 52 inches of rain fell on Houston and 
the Texas Gulf Coast, causing catastrophic flooding in our nation's 
fourth largest city.
  Harvey damaged over 300,000 homes and apartments in the City of 
Houston alone. Statewide, nearly 600,000 homes have been inspected by 
FEMA for flood or wind damage. Most tragically, 88 Texans lost their 
lives to Harvey's wrath.
  This bipartisan agreement will provide $89 billion towards disaster 
recovery and relief for Texas and the other states and territories 
impacted by hurricanes and wildfires last year.
  This includes $15 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
(USACE) to repair and construction new flood control projects in 
federal disaster areas. These funds are critical to protect Houston and 
Harris County from the next major storm event. Our region has been 
impacted by flooding for three straight years: the 2015 Memorial Day 
Floods, the 2016 Tax Day Floods, and Hurricane Harvey last August.
  Last November, the State of Texas released a report requesting $36 
billion in flood control projects for the Gulf Coast region. This 
request included critical projects that are necessary to protection our 
district and Greater Houston from future flooding, including a new 
reservoir along Cypress Creek and a coastal barrier to protect 
Galveston Bay from a catastrophic storm surge.
  It is my hope that Congress will provide additional federal funding 
for flood control projects for Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast when 
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) needs to be reauthorized later 
this year.
  One of the greatest accomplishments in the Bipartisan Budget Act is 
the additional years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance 
Program (CHIP). In January, CHIP received funding for six years. With 
the enactment of this legislation, an additional 4 years of funding 
will be added, extending the program on which nearly 400,000 children 
from my home state of Texas rely on for access to stable and affordable 
  In addition to extending CHIP for a total of 10 years, this 
legislation also provides 2 years' worth of funding for federally 
qualified health centers (FQHCs). The Bipartisan Budget Act provided 
FQHCs with $3.8 billion for the current year and $4 billion in FY2019.
  Both FQHCs and CHIP have enjoyed bipartisan support for many years. 
FQHCs have had bipartisan support since the 1960s and CHIP since it was 
created by Congress in 1997 with my vocal support. Both programs work 
because they provide individuals with access to needed healthcare 
services at affordable rates. Funding for both programs ended in 
September and we came perilously close to losing both programs when the 
Republicans failed to include funding for either program in previous 
Continuing Resolution (CRs).
  It was not until January that CHIP received funding, but only for a 
period of 6 years whereas this bipartisan budget agreement extends to a 
total of 10 years, through FY2027. CHIP is a vital program that many 
children rely for access to healthcare providers, preventive services 
and ongoing care which helps to ultimately keep health care costs low 
as well as keep a greater number of children healthy because they are 
able to access care before their conditions worsen.
  Many of my constituents have written to me expressing concern about 
the annual Medicare payment limits for outpatient services, also known 
as therapy caps. I am happy to say that the spending limits were 
permanently repealed making it easier for individuals receiving therapy 
services in our community to continue getting the services they need in 
order to heal, and in many instances remain independent and in the 
community. Medicare recipients will continue to enjoy the benefits of 
therapy services whether physical, speech or occupational without fear 
that such services will end prematurely because they have met or 
exceeded a certain financial threshold.
  Last year, the Senate passed the Creating High-Quality Results and 
Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act. This bill 
made it possible to extend the Independence at Home Demonstration that 
allows the chronically ill to receive care while in the home without 
having to move to a long-term care facility. This legislation also 
expands telehealth beyond current geographical limitations as well as 
permanently authorizing Special Needs Plans for chronically ill 
  The Bipartisan Budget Act will increase Medicare payment for home 
health providers by 1.5 percent for 2020 and for skilled nursing 
facilities by 2.4 percent for FY2019.
  Today's legislation, unfortunately, does not include provisions to 
protect beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 
(DACA) Program and young persons brought into our country without 
authorization, commonly known as ``Dreamers.'' Our district is home to 
one of the largest populations of Dreamers in the United States and 
Texas has the second largest number of DACA beneficiaries in the 
country. It is critical that Congress act immediately and pass 
legislation that will protect our young people from losing their work 
authorization and from possible deportation. I am a proud cosponsor of 
the DREAM Act, which would codify the protections provided under the 
DACA Program and deserving Dreamers a pathway to legalization and 
earned citizenship.
  I ask that my colleague join me in support of the thousands of 
disaster victims across the United States and the millions of children 
and low income Americans who benefit from affordable health coverage 
and services provided through CHIP and FQHCs, and vote in support of 
this important legislation.