Former U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp said Wednesday that the reported demise of a Tea Party movement that carried Republican Party conservatives such as himself to Congress was inaccurate.
Huelskamp, who championed policy supported by Charles and David Koch and Americans for Prosperity in the wake of President Barack Obama's election, said the campaign to reform government inspired by Tea Party activists hadn't run dry.
"As much as the Washington swamp would like you to think, I am not going away. Neither is the Tea Party. And, nor is President Donald Trump," Huelskamp said.
Huelskamp was part of the Tea Party wave that elected 85 new House Republicans in 2010. He served the 1st District from 2011 to 2017, but like a majority of that 2010 class, he's no longer in the House. The one-time chairman of the House Tea Party Caucus lost the 2016 GOP primary to challenger Roger Marshall, who represents the sprawling Kansas district.
The former 1st District congressman was hired a year ago as president of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank based in suburban Chicago with Tea Party roots.
"The insider establishment believes they have killed the Tea Party movement," said Huelskamp, a former state senator. "But as long as America’s patriots are still fighting for her future, the Tea Party movement is alive and well. And if it were up to me, the Tea Party and President Donald Trump, we would have repealed Obamacare a long time ago."
On Tuesday, Marshall delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. House urging colleagues to adopt a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including resolution of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.
"Beyond safeguarding our borders and addressing DACA," he said, "it is the responsibility of Congress to pass an immigration bill that provides a workable visa system for our farmers and producers back home."
He specifically called for replacing the H-2A visa program with a new H-2C visa system under jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The idea is to create a stable supply of workers for agriculture producers, he said.
"In Kansas, immigrants make the dairy industry run, strengthen the farms that provide the food on kitchen tables across the world and helped the Kansas agriculture industry become the international powerhouse it is today," Marshall said. "Our farms, local economy and groceries you buy depend on immigrant labor."
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, the 3rd District Republican seeking re-election, returned Tuesday from a border tour in the Rio Grande Valley and concluded a 100-mile region in Texas required more barriers at the border, additional Customs and Border Protection agents and new surveillance technology.
"These measures alone will not stop the flood of illegal immigration because of our broken immigration laws," said Yoder, chairman of the House's Homeland Security Appropriations Committee. "More than a dozen loopholes allow apprehended illegal immigrants to claim amnesty or a host of other protections exploiting a five-year backlog in our court system."
On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., attended a White House ceremony for Trump's signing of a law designed to expand access of veterans to health care in the private sector. The VA Mission Act didn't set aside federal funding for the expansion.
The Washington Post reported White House officials were pushing back against a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to earmark $50 billion to pay for changes to the private-care program Congress approved for veterans four years ago but viewed as inefficient.
The new law includes stipends to family caregivers of veterans who served in Vietnam and later conflicts.
Moran, who serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said the law includes provisions sought by U.S. Sen. John McCain and others to abolish arbitrary veterans' choice program guidelines, increase telemedicine services, support rural hospitals, allow veterans to utilize walk-in care clinics and provide strategic planning to improve the VA's integrated health care system.
"I am grateful for the president's support of this bipartisan legislation and for his work to help get it across the finish line," Moran said.