U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas may never have intended on representing Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, but said he has always had a passion to serve and give back to the community, a trait instilled in him by his mother.
"[My mother] taught us to be independent, optimistic, to have faith in God and to give back to the community in which we live," Brady said. "She had us involved up to our ears in the church, Boy Scouts, sports, school clubs—she kept us busy. My mom is a remarkable woman, and everything I am I owe to her."
Brady's desire to be a steward of his community dates back to his days as a chamber of commerce executive in The Woodlands, a job he held for 18 years. It continued when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives where he served for six years. Since 1997, he has served as the U.S. representative for the 8th Congressional District of Texas, which includes all of Montgomery, Walker, Houston, San Jacinto, Trinity, Grimes, Madison and parts of Leon and Harris counties. Brady is running for re-election to his seat in the upcoming November election after defeating challenger Craig McMichael in the March 6 Texas primary election.
"I never intended to serve in Congress," Brady said. "Since creating jobs and helping small businesses was my career, I believed I could help improve the U.S. economy and continue serving families and communities in Congress."
As a member of the House, Brady chairs the Joint Economic Committee and the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and has been an integral part in legislation that has cut taxes. He has also helped pass key trade agreements.
What are some pieces of legislation you are working on that will directly have an affect on your constituents?
Stopping President Barack Obama's tax increases on families and businesses—especially on our Texas energy businesses—is almost a full-time job. Leading the Joint Economic Committee, I've been pushing for getting Washington out of the way so this disappointing recovery can pick up steam. The Texas economy is strong, but a lot of the country is still struggling through the weakest recovery in half a century.
Spending cuts can get us halfway back to a balanced budget, but we need a much stronger economy to finish the job and start paying down our dangerous national debt. That's why tax reform is so important, why we need a time out on the Washington red tape that's strangling our local businesses—and why we need my Sound Dollar Act to reform the Federal Reserve and protect the purchasing power of the dollar.
What can be done on a federal level to get money to the state to help fund local transportation projects?
The way Washington funds our highways is outdated and inefficient. Too much of the taxes you and I pay at the gas pump are diverted to non-roadway projects. Lengthy delays and higher costs from slow federal permitting are all too common and roadway programs don't coordinate with our rail, waterway, ports and air infrastructure.
Unfortunately, I don't see the current Senate adopting the real reforms that are long overdue, so we probably won't see a long-term solution any time soon. While I'd like to see Washington allow the states to recapture their gas tax money and keep it here in Texas, my guess is that most progress on roadway funding will occur at the state level for now.
What is the role of the federal government when it comes to local transportation funding?
Today, Texans pay 38.4 cents in taxes per gallon of gas at the pump. Twenty cents stays here in Texas and 18.4 cents goes to Washington. The federal government uses a formula and grants to return dollars to the state. Until recently, when Washington started using general revenue to plug the hole in the highway trust fund, Texas was a "donor state," which meant we got back less than we sent in.
We need serious, 21st century reforms in Washington that capture the dollars locally, streamline the process and give more control to local authorities to move projects more quickly and affordably.
Without repealing the Affordable Care Act, what changes do you think should be made?
Repealing the law and replacing it with affordable, patient-centered health care is still my goal. Until then, delaying or ending the mandate that forces families to buy government-approved health care they don't want, don't need and can't afford is the highest priority. Ending the mandate on local businesses is another top priority because it's already forcing companies to cut hours, cut jobs and put their hiring on hold.
The ACA's 23 new taxes are just being felt and over time will force companies to drop their health care at work and move workers into the government exchanges. The Medicare cuts are just starting. Over time they will make it harder for local health care providers to treat our elderly by shrinking reimbursement for needed health care.
What can the federal government do to ensure the success of business in America?
Get out of the way. Create the best business climate on the planet by fixing the broken tax code. Rein in the IRS and excessive federal regulation. Encourage more American-made energy and allow us to sell it globally. Pass free trade agreements that allow Texas and American companies to compete and win customers around the world and encourage innovation.
What are the biggest concerns facing future generations of Americans?
The federal government is living beyond its means and that debt will have a huge impact on our children and grandchildren.
They will face a more sluggish economy, fewer jobs, higher taxes and higher interest rates. It's wrong that they won't have the same opportunity to live a better life than their parents did.
Too many people in Washington believe "government made America great and more government can make America great again." I don't. I have more faith in the American people than in Washington to know what's right for them and how to spend their own money.
There isn't a challenge facing America we can't overcome. But we can't look to Washington for all the answers. The answers are here at home, in our people, our churches and our communities.