EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The United States welcomed the new year with a new class of congressional representatives.
On Sunday, the 117th U.S. Congress was sworn in and includes a historic number of women — an El Pasoan among them.
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of El Paso was sworn in for her second term to represent Texas’ 16th District.
“I am incredibly humbled to again have the opportunity to serve El Paso — Texas’ 16th Congressional District,” said Escobar in a statement provided to KTSM 9 News.
“We have tremendous challenges ahead, especially because of the pandemic that still ravages our borderland, but I am optimistic and hopeful about the work ahead.”
Escobar wrapped-up 2020 by voting in favor of H.R. 133, the 2021 fiscal year appropriations agreement that includes the $900 billion bipartisan emergency coronavirus relief package.
“The effects of the coronavirus pandemic in El Paso have been catastrophic and deeply painful: over 1,300 El Pasoans have died, more than 8,000 filed for unemployment in November, and 1 in 5 children are suffering from food insecurity,” Escobar said.
She said she voted in favor of the legislation because she anticipated that communities such as El Paso would be greatly affected by COVID-19.
“From the early days of this deadly pandemic, I have sounded the alarm about the crushing impact this would have on minority communities like ours and have advocated and voted for critical relief legislation to protect the lives and livelihoods of El Paso families, workers, and small businesses. This time is no different,” she continued.
The end-of-year funding package included priorities that Escobar said she is committed to addressing in 2021 to improve the lives and livelihoods of El Pasoans that include:
- Accelerating vaccine distribution by voting for billions in funds to optimize free and equitable vaccine distribution
- Strong support for small businesses by way of supporting funding to help small and minority-owned businesses and nonprofits survive and recover from the pandemic
- Community development of financial institutions and minority depository institutions that sets aside PPP for small businesses
- Rental assistance for families and an extension of the eviction moratorium
A summary of the agreement can be found here.
Escobar said she’s determined to confront the challenges of 2020 and create a path toward the next stage of our collective “new normal.”
“I know El Pasoans desperately need and deserve more. I will continue to work for bigger and bolder relief legislation and work in the upcoming months with the Biden-Harris administration to combat the coronavirus and alleviate the pain our families, community and economy are facing.”