Opinion Pieces

Shoring up the area’s economy

As originally published by the Baytown Sun on September 4, 2019. 

Past Baytown Chamber Chairman Roger Elswick, left shakes hands with Lee College Regent Pete Alfaro, right, as Rep. Brian Babin (District 36) looks on.

U.S. Congressman Brian Babin provided a legislative update to members and guests of the Baytown Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at the organization’s monthly membership meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Babin, a Republican who was first elected to represent the 36th Congressional District of Texas in 2014, largely centered his comments on trade and the petrochemical industry — the two main economic drivers of the east Harris County and Chambers County economies.

The Port of Houston and its industries affect the whole U.S. economy, Babin said, noting the need to looks seriously at the Coastal Spine proposal to protect the region from storm surge.


“I’m very hopeful that the Democrats on the other side of the aisle — my colleagues — will acknowledge the need for a strong infrastructure package and come to the table to talk and work with us,” he said.

“There are many crucial infrastructure projects right here in Southeast Texas that need to be worked on and accomplished.”

Babin said he met recently with the Corps of Engineers to encourage the project to dredge and widen the Houston Ship Channel.

He also addressed the needs of Cedar Bayou, saying the Corps of Engineers will soon sign a document with the Cedar Bayou Navigation District for a framework for public and 

private funding on bayou work.

Babin also encouraged Congress to act soon on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace the former North American Free Trade Agreement.

“No district — no state — will benefit any more from the USMCA than right here in the 36th District of the State of Texas,” he said.

“The USMCA reforms and strengthens near every point in the export process. It ensures that workers can do their jobs safely and it certifies that buyers and sellers are getting the very best deal possible.

“This trade agreement also includes the most comprehensive set of environmental protections seen in any American trade deal in history.”

In response to recent bad news from Texas, Babin addressed both the string of industrial accidents in the east Harris County area and also the mass shootings in western parts of the state.

“I’ve had many conversations with the administration about these accidents and about making sure that we’re taking every step necessary to protect all the communities and the employees at these plants,” Babin said.

“I’ve had many conversations discussing with both government and business leaders to have all the tools and resources necessary to have the strongest and safest industry possible.”

In response to mass shootings, Babin urged that Congress move forward with the TAPS Act, which would fund training for the law enforcement, business and educational communities in the behavioral threat assessment method of spotting and intervening with individuals who pose a risk of violence, using techniques developed by the Secret Service to protect the president.

“As we see these terrible, terrible mass shootings and killings that are happening now on a routine basis, it just stuns me to think that this country has gotten into a situation where we seem to see these every week.”

Babin said the bill has more than 120 co-sponsors, about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

“The American people expect us to take care of this situation,” he said. “The knee-jerk reaction after every school shooting on the Democrat side is to take away your guns — they want to outlaw certain types of guns, they want universal background checks, they want this, they want that.

“The Republicans, they want to arm the school — all the school administrators, they want to arm the teachers, and have metal detectors sitting at the doorways.

“It’s time to do something. It’s time to work across the aisle,” Babin said.