FRIENDSWOOD — With his business in Washington done until January, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made a stop in Galveston County on Wednesday for a round-table discussion with local government and business leaders.
Cruz met for about an hour with about 25 people in the back meeting room of a Friendswood bank. Among the people inside were Galveston Mayor Lewis Rosen, League City Mayor Tim Paulissen, County Judge Mark Henry and representatives from the ports of Galveston and Texas City and the Galveston Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting was part of a series of meetings Cruz has been having around the state.
“The message you hear in Galveston County is the same as the message I’m hearing all over the state, which is that the top priority for Texas is restoring economic growth and jobs,” Cruz said.
Though the meeting was ostensibly about Cruz being able to hear about local issues, the senator kept most of his comments during a media session to the topic that has gained him the most attention in his short time in Washington — his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
“ObamaCare is the single biggest job-killer in the country,” Cruz said. “Seeing the disaster that is rolling out, I think it is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge this thing isn’t working. Let’s start over.”
Cruz did note there are issues particular to the Houston-Galveston area, such as hurricane preparedness, that merit specific attention.
Cruz declined to throw his support behind a specific flood mitigation project, such as the proposed island-based flood barrier known as the Ike Dike.
“It’s an issue that merits careful consideration,” Cruz said. “My office is engaged in ongoing discussions with local leaders, examining the project and examining the best ways to move forward.”
Though reporters were not permitted to observe the discussion, the leaders in attendance said afterward they used their time with Cruz to call attention to local issues.
Rosen said, in addition to the Ike Dike, he asked Cruz to consider the issues surrounding the Biggert-Waters flood insurance act and the Pelican Island Bridge.
Henry said that with another debt ceiling fight in Washington approaching in January and with it the threat of another government shutdown, the conversation also briefly turned to the fate of the thousands of federal and privately contracted employee who work at Johnson Space Center.
“We don’t think that a government shutdown is helpful to our area,” Henry said. “It puts a lot of people, especially at NASA, out of work, and they don’t get paid necessarily for not being there.”