Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak of messages and missions yet undone. This Congress, both House and Senate, was sent here on behalf of the American people to ensure that their voices and their needs are adhered to. They are not interested in the clanging of voices; they are interested in the rolling up of sleeves and making sure our government works. So I stand here in reflection of a very successful enrollment day in Houston, Texas, last Saturday, where people came and stood in line to be able to seek information and, yes, enroll because they have faith in this Nation.
As the Affordable Care Act goes along and fixes broken promises and
broken technology, what we should be focused on is making it work for the American people. Making sure that those with preexisting disease can have insurance, young people with minimal income can have insurance, those between 50 and 65 can have insurance, and those with catastrophic illnesses can have insurance. I have faith that as we work through this, what is best for the American people is the choices they will have, and the fact that they will keep what they have and be able to enroll for a year is a response to the pain.
We know that the insurance companies did not need to send cancelation letters; they could have sent modification letters, but I want to go forward.
Things yet unfinished--one happens to be the enormity of gun violence among our young people that has been reflected in incidents in Houston, Texas; 19 shot, two dead, teenagers at a house party. This past weekend, one shot at a house party, who has lost his life. My sympathy to their families. I call out now for all of our forces, Federal, local, and State, PTOs and school districts, teachers, civic organizations and faith organizations, that we work together to be able to stop the surge of gun violence and the loss of our young people.
Statistics will show that in African American communities and Hispanic communities where there is homicide, that a high percentage is by a gun. So I would ask that we look seriously at legislation I introduced, H.R. 65, the gun storage and safety device bill, and a bill that also indicates, except for exceptions, that guns should not be in the hands of young people under the age of 21, and for someone who allows that to happen, there should be higher penalties on that individual.
I have been told by urban mayors that there are stash houses where people can go and rent guns. Let's not be afraid of background checks. More importantly, let's not be afraid of weeding out this horrible scourge on our community, and the deaths that families have to contend with.
Then, I think it is important to note that we have got to continue to speak on the issue of mental health needs. Tragedy occurred in Virginia, and the story that is unfolding saddens me because that story is similar to the one in Sandy Hook. The young perpetrator had issues they had to deal with in terms of their mental health. We have got to be able to provide more resources for beds for young people. We have got to intervene. We have got to help families. We have got to not run away from mental health issues, but run toward them.
Then I would like to make mention of those families who are suffering because their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the last month has been cut. They are expecting in this budget coming forward that $40 billion will be on the table to be cut again.
I have visited my food banks. I took the SNAP challenge and ate on that budget. No one should call those folks deadbeats. And every time there is a deadbeat, you can be assured that person will be found out. I am concerned about the seniors and the young children that go to bed hungry, and one-half of those who get SNAP benefits, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, are in actuality children.
As we go toward this budget process deadline of December 13, let us have a sense of compassion. Let us have sources that will help us and the Department of Justice to be able to deal with this proliferation of guns, these Saturday night specials, these stash houses to help our children. Let's expand counseling and pronouncements by the local community that we are standing up against this violence that is attacking our children. Let's find dollars to help out local and State communities on resources for mental health.
Let me thank one of the leaders in my community, Patrick, who is a Vietnam veteran who has raised up the issue in Houston on the need for mental health beds and intervention, stories that I have heard in my own community where a grandfather took his grandchild to a county facility, they did not have a bed, and ultimately that grandchild stabbed and killed his grandfather and the grandfather's daughter.
We know that there are challenges, missions, and messages yet undone. Let's get to work on behalf of the American people.