August 14, 2008 - 6:23AM
McALLEN — The Rio Grande Valley’s rapid growth in recent years could soon make a new Congressional district necessary, a local lawmaker said.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said Wednesday that Texas could pick up three or even four new congressmen when the U.S. House of Representatives realigns in 2011.
“If we add another congressman, that would give us more power in Washington,” he said of the Valley.
Cuellar’s remarks were at a McAllen Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday afternoon. He also highlighted his legislative priorities for the coming months, which include “a strong push” for immigration reform soon after the next president takes office next year.
“If we don’t do it early, people will have another excuse called the the mid-term (Congressional) elections,” he said.
Besides a new comprehensive immigration plan, Cuellar — whose district stretches from the Pharr area, to Laredo and up to the outskirts of San Antonio — said he hopes Congress passes a second economic stimulus package by the time legislators wrap up their session at the end of September.
He also wants to see additional funding for local transportation projects attached to that bill — although he cautioned that President Bush could veto any sort of second stimulus legislation.
“As we are growing; our transportation needs (remain) very strong — more than any other state,” he said.
Cuellar also explained his support for aggressive energy reform that ranges from offshore oil drilling to improving vehicles’ gas mileage.
And the representative talked about permitting commercial traffic on the new Anzalduas International Bridge — set to open in June 2009 — but did not say whether he believes federal officials would allow it. The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is the only internationalcrossing in Hidalgo County that permits commercial traffic.
“One of the things we are looking at is getting construction out of the way,” Cuellar said. “I want to see all the bridges succeed.
“The more bridges we have, the more business we have for Hidalgo County.”
Jared Taylor covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4439.