Texas Blue Dog Henry Cuellar was a part of the nine conservative Democrats who worked with No Labels to oppose the $3.5T Build Back Better Act despite the fact that their constituents overwhelmingly support the budget plan and are less likely to vote for those standing in opposition to it. The Biden plan was designed in such a way that it would help approximately 91% of Texas children through the Child Tax Credit while raising taxes on less than 3.8% of households in TX-28.
Last cycle, Blue America endorsed Jessica Cisneros in the hope that she would replace Cuellar. She came incredibly close for a first time candidate. We are proud to endorse her again-- and feel that this time, she will be on her way to Congress after voters, who now know her, have had their say a year from now. Please consider contributing to her campaign by clicking here or by clicking the Blue America 2022 congressional thermometer on the left. And please read Jessica's guest post below, which will help you understand who she is and why she's running.
South Texas Deserves A Representative Who Knows Their Stories
-by Jessica Cisneros
Deciding to run for Congress was never an easy decision for me. I never imagined running for Congress at 26, but my community needed an advocate. After being nominated to run for Congress as a Justice Democrat by my high school teacher, I decided to take a leap of faith with the rest of my community. In June 2019, I announced my run for Congress which led to an inspiring people-powered 2020 campaign that held a 15-year incumbent to 51.8% of the vote. Together, my community proved that our vision and our dreams can be just as powerful as Henry Cuellar’s corporate dollars.
After our stunning challenge in 2020, I kept fighting for South Texas as a human rights attorney. About a month after our March primary, I went back to the trenches and joined Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and the Asylum Defense Project in Laredo to continue defending people from our broken immigration system. The need was greater than ever as the Trump administration doubled down on terrorizing the immigrant community in the middle of a global crisis because of the pandemic. As we got closer to the November election, I continued to organize with my community and teamed up with progressive groups in Texas to get out the vote and help Democrats take back Congress and the White House. At the beginning of 2021, I achieved a dream I set out at the beginning of my law school career; I became the supervising attorney at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), where I helped establish the foundation for a public defender model for detained people facing immigration proceedings, a first-of-its-kind office in my hometown of Laredo.
I’ve decided to relaunch my campaign for Congress because I couldn't stand to see my community suffer under failed leadership anymore, so I am back to finish what we started-- to bring a voice to the South Texas community that believed in me and believed in a better future for themselves.
South Texas deserves a representative who knows their stories, has shared their struggles, and is committed to fighting for working people. While we are under a new administration, Rep. Cuellar continues to push against the Democratic agenda, most notably: the PRO Act, voting in favor of the Hyde amendment and against the Women’s Health Protection Act, obstructing the Build Back Better bill, and joining Republicans in proposing legislation that continues to separate immigrant families.
A recent poll of TX-28 voters showed that the Build Back Better bill is not only overwhelmingly popular in South Texas, but it is more popular than Rep. Henry Cuellar himself. Over 70% of voters in TX-28 support lowering prescription drug costs and health insurance premiums; investing in long-term care for seniors; expanding Medicare to include vision, hearing, and dental; and investing in programs to prevent climate disasters. But despite knowing this, Rep. Cuellar is still choosing to obstruct the Democrats’ Build Back Better budget proposal and instead is beholden to his Republican corporate donors.
The fight for health care is personal for me. I watched my tía and other family members pass away because we couldn’t afford their health care. We had to sell plates of food on the side of the road to fundraise for medical costs and then again for the funeral costs-- an unfortunate common occurrence for so many South Texas families.
I live in Laredo, a border town in South Texas, where basic health care is extremely limited. Laredo also has an uninsured rate of 30% and has historically been medically underserved.
It’s one of the many reasons I support Medicare for All-- because I believe health care is a human right, not just a privilege for those who can afford it. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people in my community to cross over to Mexico for care because it’s affordable there. Many of us cross into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico-- right on the other side of the border-- for all kinds of medical needs: dental and hearing visits, prescriptions and birth control, medical procedures, you name it. I even recently found myself undergoing emergency surgery while I was in Nuevo Laredo and paid a total of $3,000 for the surgery, various exams, a two-day hospital stay, medication, and all follow-up appointments. Those of us with status recognize that we have the privilege to cross the border to get the care we need, which is a privilege that many of our undocumented loved ones don’t have. We need Medicare for All because no one in America should go without or have to go into Mexico to get the care we need.
Reproductive health care is even harder to come by. Anti-choice politicians in Texas have made their priorities clear. Instead of focusing on the health and safety of Texas communities, state leaders are attacking the right to abortion care. And while some in the federal government have taken steps toward making reproductive health care and abortion care more accessible, their efforts are being undermined by lawmakers like Rep. Henry Cuellar. Just last month, Rep. Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act, a historic piece of legislation which would codify the right to aborton care for everyone.
Over the past year, our community has suffered through a deadly Texas freeze and a pandemic. We’d wake up, day after day, praying we wouldn’t lose another family member, our jobs, or the roof over our heads. We need change. We can’t wait any longer, so we’re back to finish what we started. South Texas deserves a representative who’s going to fight for our dreams as hard as we do. Join our fight.