Congressman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, of Dallas spent Saturday touring Southeast New Mexico with the district’s Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, discussing issues that impact both influential U.S. House leaders before they return to a critical week in Washington.
The Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee granted an interview with the Daily Record before departing to discuss current pending legislation involving immigration reform, oil and natural gas proposals and party unity.
Sessions spent time discussing regional issues with Pearce, who he said is a valuable part of the Republican House majority.
“(Pearce) spends a great deal of time talking with other members about jobs, job creation and the energy industry that is a part of the value of New Mexico and really to our country,” Sessions said. “That’s why I’m here.
“In difficult times, you need leaders and people who are willing to think, look and listen and don’t just immediately make a quick decision, but rather study the issues with a knowledge that we need to hear all sides,” Sessions said. “We need to make rational decisions then, we need to err on the side of how we produce a better country.”
Sessions handled legislation last week in the Rules Committee from the Natural Resources Committee regarding jurisdiction over natural gas and public lands.
“The federal government and because of the activism of our president has taken those lands out of the ability for there to be production, and he is stopping and halting and making it as difficult as he can” to access those resources, Sessions said.
Sessions said he believed the federal government has the ability to access revenue from the resources, provide state with revenue, develop natural resources and approve the Keystone Pipeline to lessen the nation’s reliance on foreign sources. He supported the House passage to increase energy production to unlock offshore resource-rich areas recently.
“We are disappointed that the president, through his views of radical environmentalists, is not flexible to allowing our country to more further develop its resources,” Sessions said.
House Republican leaders most immediately face providing a response to the U.S. Senate’s passage of a sweeping immigration bill June 27 that would allow the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants to become U.S. citizens, overhaul the immigration system and spend billions to secure the country’s southern border with Mexico.
A special closed-door meeting is set for July 10 for House Republicans to discuss the best way to move forward with immigration. But leaders have already voiced broad opposition to the Senate proposition.
New Mexico is one of only two states to provide illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. According to a 2013 report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the state’s policies that offer benefits and services to illegal residents cost the state’s taxpayers $717 million in annually.
Sessions said immigration is an important issue to the success of this country and to people who have been here for a long time, albeit illegally.
“But they have been in this country and been a part of our fabric,” Sessions said. “The question is how do you best go about providing a legal status about how they can be expected to participate, how they can get a driver’s license, pay taxes and do any number of things, and what they might be entitled to as a result of that.”
The Senate bill was not effective in providing a good answer to what Americans could support, he said.
First, it didn’t address border security properly.
“We believe that some of the most important issues that need to be decided is border security,” Sessions said. “It’s not just the southern border. It’s the northern border, it’s the eastern seaports. It’s the San Francisco and Los Angeles seaports. It is an assault on this country and how people come in.”
Sessions also said he believed at minimum, a final version should include a guest worker plan where the U.S. would allow workers in the country to gain a legal status in the process.
“I have not been convinced yet that the Senate bill that was passed would be effective nor would this president and this administration have the desire to move it forward,” Sessions said.
House leaders decided to listen to its membership, wait and see what Americans thought about the Senate proposal and begin to work on the process after this week’s break.
“It’s being presented by many Democrats as a political issue against Republicans,” he said “They didn’t do it in their first term with the president, nor did they do it when they had the House for four years. It happened when they lost the majority that have began beating the drums for this to happen.”
House leaders, such as Sessions, are concerned that President Obama and his administration continue to present massive overhauls, such as last week’s immigration policy, in the wake of epic unanswered scandals.
“They have been incapable to effectively run the IRS, to run the State Department, to run the Department of Justice, to run the Department of ‘You Name It,’” Sessions said. “Across the board, our president and this administration is incapable and unwilling to work within the laws of this country to offer an explanation of what they do, and they play hide the ball and do things themselves.
“The last major piece of legislation that he president has passed is called Health Care — we have yet to see them effectively make that work,” he said. “So, I think we should not move forward at this time on these big, new comprehensive deals that are very costly, incapable in seeing someone who is ineffective at managing the necessary changes and lastly to give the American people a clear understanding about that we should have to do to protect this country.”