Pfluger: 'A major, major turn of events' as Build Back Better stalls

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
U.S. Rep. August Pfluger speaks during a town hall Monday at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking in the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce boardroom Monday, U.S. Rep. August Pfluger said he usually doesn't have a lot of good news to bring to his town hall meetings.

"But today is a little bit different," Pfluger, a Republican who represents the 11th District in Texas, told a standing-room-only audience. "We do have some good political news. If you watched the news at all (Sunday), and you were against reconciliation, you might have a smile on your face too. It’s not over but I do have a smile on my face."

Pfluger was referring to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's announcement that he will not support President Biden's  "Build Back Better" socioeconomic overhaul bill. Manchin's announcement stalls the bill.

Pfluger defined the reconciliation process as  "a parliamentary trick and it circumvents the system. What you elected me to go do was to sit in a committee, to sit on the House floor and to have a transparent debate about where we’re going to spend our money and what our priorities are, and what the legislative duties are. That’s what I intended to do, and reconciliation does goes around that."

Pfluger noted the "tremendous amount of money spent" on COVID relief, saying the spending has" passed the point of helping people. We actually are now hurting communities with the money that is being spent."

In the summer months, “we get into this Build Back … they’re calling it something different. I call it Build Back Broke because that is what it’s going to do to us," Pfluger said. "The president claimed it’s going to cost zero dollars."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost at $4.5 trillion to $5 trillion, Pfluger said.

“This bill would put a tremendous amount of people out of work because of the taxes that would be levied on the oil and gas industry," Pfluger said. "It is unimaginable that we then would spend $5 trillion to kill our own energy industry, which is exactly what this bill would do. Senator Manchin came out and said ‘I cannot support a bill that does that.’

"This is a major, major turn of events for us. It is such good news to taxpayers everywhere that we’re not going to go with this bill right now. Now it’s not dead until it’s voted on and it is killed and it is pushed aside. This will resurface eventually. They’re going to reshape it and rework it and it’s going to come back up. We’re going to keep fighting against it. 'Cautiously optimistic' is the word that I would use, but I do have a smile on my face because that’s great news for our country."

Pluger's next topic was the National Defense Authorization Bill. The bill initially contained "poison pills" including attacks on Second Amendment rights and dishonorable discharges for military personnel who refuse to take the COVID vaccine, Pfluger said.

“We worked over the last couple of months and we took those poison pills out," Pfluger said, saying bill's focus needed to be in threats from China, Russia, cyberterrorism and violent extremism.

“We were able to take out those poison pills and get this bill back to where it needed to be, which was a 5 percent increase in funding for the military," Pfluger said. "We are facing threats all around the world that I have never seen. The level of threat that we face from China right now is unimaginable. We have threats everywhere and we cannot afford to get our eye off the ball and I think that build back broke – that’s taking our eye off the ball.” 

Referring to the Biden Administration's COVID vaccine mandates, Pfluger said, "This is a very, very unpopular mandate. It’s overreach at the grossest level. It doesn’t represent what we believe in. I’m vaccinated. It was right for me. It was between my physician and myself. You’re not going to hear me stand up and go tell you what to go do.

"As we learn more about these things and get the science out there, what I wish the federal government would say is, 'we’re looking at overall health, and let’s look at natural immunity, let’s look at the (infection rates) and mortality rates, and let’s put this all together.' But instead they politicized it.”

Pfluger referred to Biden's statement that unvaccinated citizens will experience "severe illness and death" due to the omicron variant of the coronavirus. "I read that and I think, merry Christmas to you, too," Pfluger said.

Pfluger's final topic was the southern border and immigration. At least 2.1 people have entered the United States illegally, Pfluger said.

“All Joe Biden had to do was nothing on this issue, just let the policies from President Trump survive," Pfluger said. "Instead we’ve seen an increase of almost 1 percent increase in population of illegal immigrants.

"I'm  not OK with an open border. Right now the governor is doing what he can do to build the wall. This is the federal government’s responsibility. The federal government has abandoned Texas on this. When we win the House back next year we will start with accountability on the border."