U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, on Monday covered a wide range of topics from energy security, debt and the EPA to how the U.S. House got to the point of choosing Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, as the House Speaker, during his town hall in the Zant Room of the Saulsbury Campus Center at Odessa College Monday.
A packed house greeted Pfluger, a Republican from Texas District 11, which goes roughly from Killeen to Odessa and includes a little bit of Harker Heights, and some of what’s now called Fort Cavazos, previously Fort Hood.
He presented former U.S. Marine W.T. “Dub” Riley with a flag he flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in honor of Riley’s military service. Riley also received a certificate from Pfluger.
He also presented a certificate to Lionel Loya, director of facility contracts at OC, for the work he has done behind the scenes not only for the college, but the community. He talked about the inspiration they offer to the younger generations.
Before taking questions, Pfluger made remarks.
He gave a brief biography of Johnson and said he has invited him to come to the Permian Basin. Johnson grew up in Northwest Louisiana and only wanted to be a fire chief. That was his dream job.
“In a way he is a fire chief. He’s in charge of the House of Representatives” where there’s a fire every day, Pfluger said.
“This is a man of great integrity, great character, a husband, a father, a Christian, somebody who believes in the rule of law who, I think, when he speaks … he speaks with a little bit of a soft tone, very measured and calculated. The pace of his words in a way that maybe” makes you question how strong he is, Pfluger said.
“… He’s very, very strong. Very conservative. He is, I think, a believer in conservatism, fiscal responsibility, the rule of law. He’s a Constitutional scholar. He understands what the Constitution says,” Pfluger said.
The House went through multiple Speaker candidates to replace Kevin McCarthy, R-California, such as Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana. Pfluger said McCarthy wasn’t the most conservative member of Congress, but “We had conservative conscience that was helping that, but we missed some of the warning signs.”
“Passing appropriations bills on time. We’ve got to do that. We’ve got to change the way Washington works and what you saw take place from Sept. 30 to about a week, week and a half ago, two weeks ago was the turning and churning of the Republicans saying how are we going to do business?”
“This isn’t about one leader. The Speaker makes a difference, but it’s about our country surviving. It’s about making sure we’re listening. …,” he added.
When he was in the Air Force, Pfluger said they had planned missions with many pieces and parts. If you didn’t listen to one piece or part, then the whole mission would fall apart.
“I’m afraid that’s what happened. I’m not sure that under the previous Speaker we were listening to what the American public were really saying and that’s why we’re here. What the public was saying was if we’re going to spend money on something we need to know what it is. We need to know what the benefit is and we need to know that it’s going to be used to strengthen our economy, strengthen our national security, or strengthen us around the world in a way that is meaningful to us at home,” Pfluger said.
He said Johnson is in a “honeymoon period” right now having been on the job about three and a half weeks. Congress is going back next week and “we’re going to continue to have these conversations.”
“I’m concerned about the debt and deficit, our national security, energy security. Odessa, Texas, has been assaulted by President Biden directly. I take that personally. I’ve gone up there with the mentality to fight back and to fight on behalf of all of you, all of us, everyone in this community who either is directly or indirectly involved in the energy business, which is a tool of national security,” Pfluger said.
Pfluger said the House has passed more appropriations bills this year than previous years combined.
“That is a good start, but it’s not good enough. … When you hear what are Republicans doing? It’s not all doom and gloom. Yes, it needs to be better. Yes, we need to get our appropriations and budgeting process done sooner, in a transparent way …,” Pfluger said.
Pfluger said the House passed the most comprehensive energy security legislation in the history of Congress. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he has written several pieces of energy legislation including repealing the natural gas tax that is “very harmful” to producers in this area, midstream production and refining. That included National Environmental Policy Act reform, which hadn’t been reformed in 40 years.
He added that they got multiple Democrats to vote on HR 1. Contrasting this to Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s HR 1, Pfluger said that was to federalize elections. Pfluger thanked state Sen. Kevin Sparks, R-Midland, for his work on election integrity in Texas. Pfluger said this sets the way for the American public to have faith in the election process.
The House passed a Parents Bill of Rights so parents would know what their children are being taught in school.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. It may appear that we are in chaos, and we have certainly had our fair share of back and forth because the approach to how we get there is important. But I want you to know that just by Republicans getting elected, we saved $7.5 trillion dollars to be put into the economy … We actually cut spending by almost $2 trillion this year. That’s important. We passed that and the President signed it into the law,” Pfluger said.
“We’re not done cutting. This round of appropriations bills, I can promise you, will be the most conservative bills that you’ve ever seen. I’m telling you in the history of Congress, we have not seen cuts like we’re doing right now. We are trying our best to get that curve bent back down because what several four-star generals who are Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said is the greatest threat to our country is not China. It’s not Russia. It’s not terrorism. It is our debt. We believe that and Republicans are working on that. We’re going to find a way to bend the curve and get that spending under control. But it is not going to happen overnight. …,” Pfluger said.