Congressman Pfluger holds Town Hall in Ballinger: "There will be true accountability"

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
Karin Kuykendall (L), Regional Director for Texas' 11th District, stands beside Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11). Pfluger was in Ballinger to speak to citizens at Main Street Soda Fountain regarding the crisis in Afghanistan, looming tax increases, and border security.

Republican Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11) stopped in for a Town Hall at the Main Street Soda Fountain in Ballinger on Friday, August 27.

The Town Hall was attended by Runnels County Judge Julia Miller, Ballinger City Manager Brian Frieda, Ballinger Police Chief Ray Cornutt and Lieutenant Stan Maresh, Runnels County commissioner Brandon Poehls, First National Bank of Ballinger president Greg Schwertner and staff, Ballinger ISD superintendent Jeff Butts, Ballinger mayor Dawni Seymore, as well as numerous other leaders and citizens from around the area.

The topic primarily revolved around President Biden's administration, law enforcement, as well as the attack that killed 10 Marines, 2 Army soldiers, 1 Navy Corpsman and169 Afghans on August 25. The bombing also injured at least 15 personnel.

Pfluger touched on the subjects of border security and the media, "It's (America) a pretty special place. I'm tired of hearing the liberal media saying that this isn't the best country in the world, because it is the best country in the world."

Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11) hosted a Town Hall in Ballinger at Main Street Soda Fountain. Pfluger spoke about the crisis in Afghanistan, the proposed budget, taxes, and border security.

Praising Law Enforcement

Pfluger praised law enforcement around the state, "I talked to Tom Green County Sheriff Hanna yesterday. We've had a lot of round tables on law enforcement the last couple of months, especially with border security and the impact we see from drugs and human trafficking." Pfluger said that he believes "99% of the people in this country support law enforcement." The congressman continued, "But, we have this media that wants us to believe that we as Americans don't (support law enforcement), that law enforcement is bad, that the military isn't doing the right thing. I'm just kind of tired of hearing that. I'm worried about where this administration (President Biden) is going. I'm worried about where they're going in so many different directions."

Congress called back into session

As for the national budget, Pfluger spoke about being called into session recently and the Democrats' budget agenda, "By the way, we got called back into session last week. We should have been called back into session, but it should have been for the crisis that that we have ongoing in Afghanistan. That is the reason we should have been up there, not to vote on $3.5 trillion dollars. I'll tell you where their (Democrats) priorities are: In the middle of what we knew was a looming crisis and what ended up happening yesterday (bombing), was a complete tragedy for people like Will Griffis who served, and others. This is an affront to us as veterans, to all of us as Americans, that the President of the United States and former presidents were on the phones with 9 moderate Democrats during a 24-hour period of time, where we should have been been in classified briefings. They have been focused on 'How are we going to protect every American life to get them out of Afghanistan safely, and protect our partners who have given, since 2015, 50,000 lives that the Afghans have been willing to sacrifice.' Not just for their flag, but for ours as well.' Instead, you had the president and the former presidents on the phone trying to convince these 9 Democrats to vote for a $3.5 trillion budget. That's where their priorities are. To me, that's shameful." Pfluger said that he believes "our eyes are so far off the ball."

First National Bank of Ballinger President/CEO Greg Shwertner stands with his staff next to Texas Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11)

The budget and Budget Reconciliation

The Texas congressman offered a few more details about the budget, "Budget reconciliation is a trick. It's a legislative trick, and instead of going through the normal committee process, and having the Senate, which requires 60 votes, what they do is they have this method, this mechanism called Budget Reconciliation where the House and the Senate have to vote on the same thing, and if they do pass the same thing, the Senate can use 51 votes. There is no legislation in there, it's just instructions."

Pfluger gave an example of what he says is happening with the budget, "It's kind of like taking the county budget and you give certain sectors very basic instructions. 'We'll give $58 billion to Ag.' So, What's in that? It's a Green New Deal. They can say we're gonna create a Climate Accord from the Agricultural committee and they just Create the Climate Accord with $68 million. Then, they go to each different committee and give them very basic instructions. There is no legislation in there. It just gives them instructions and they come up with this, and it's so nebulous in the oversight of it because it's a legislative trick. It's not what we, as Americans need, it's not what we demand. This $3.5 trillion is the start of $68 trillion over the next 10 years. It's the largest spending spree that we've ever seen."

Texas Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11) speaks to Ballinger Police Chief Ray Cornutt (left) and lieutenant Stan Maresch. Standing beside Pfluger is Karin Kuykendall, the Regional Direct for Texas District 11.

Taxes could impact local farmers

As for tax increases, Pfluger said that they will affect everyone, "Every single person will be affected by the tax increases on this (budget). The Permian Basin will see their tangible drilling costs, their deductions that they take out of their production, taken away."

Pfluger said that farmers are also facing potential challenges due to the budget and taxes, "Capital gains will be attacked. The Stepped-Up Basis, that is so important for our farmers and ranchers, will be on the table. Most importantly, the 2017 tax reform that President Trump put in place, where we had the lowest taxes in decades and in 2019 the most tax revenue come into the federal treasury, in the history of this country, will be reversed. President Biden said that we won't see a tax increase for people who make under a certain amount. That is false. All of us will feel this."

Pfluger said that the increase in taxes is even more detrimental due to "higher prices at the gas pump and higher prices at the grocery store as inflation is continuing to skyrocket. Everyone is feeling this."

As for as the Afghan crisis and border security, Pfluger feels like the administration isn't doing what it should be doing, "While we have other crises going on, Democrats have been celebrating, and what they celebrated last week, which I thought was extremely disrespectful to the situation in Afghanistan was a massive tax increase on every American."

Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11) speaks to Ballinger Mayor Dawni Seymore (Left) and Runnels County Judge Julia Miller. Pfluger was in Ballinger to host a Town Hall at Main Street Soda Fountain.

There will be a true accountability

Pfluger also touched on terrorism. He said that he's requested the names of "known, and suspected terrorists" from the President, "I'm on the Homeland Defense Committee. With the 9/11 anniversary coming up, there have been 4000-5000 prisoners released. Some were in GITMO and are possibly part of ISIS. We called on the President to give us the names of the known and suspected terrorists."

When it comes to names, Pfluger said that he was also upset about the administration purportedly giving the names of Americans in Afghanistan to the Taliban, "There will be a true accountability. We will get these answers and we will work to get accountability for what happened yesterday (bombing)." Pfluger said that he's currently working with about 40 Afghans who qualify for visas.

The information regarding the "kill list" allegedly provided to the Taliban by the US Government is based on a Politico report said that U.S. officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies in an effort to grant them entry to the airport, which resulted in outrage from military officials behind the scenes.

As for his home state, Pfluger said that the Texas Legislature passed the Texas Integrity Law last night "after Democrats returned." Earlier in this legislative season, many of the Democrats fled the state to stop any legislation from becoming law. It upended the Legislature's ability to turn any bills into law just days into a 30-day session. The Texas Integrity Law, GOP-backed legislation, enacts new restrictions on voting.

Pfluger spoke about 40 minutes, closing with, "It's good to be an American. It's great to be an American. Pray for our leaders."