Vela was elected to the congressional seat for the newly created District 34, which includes Bee County.
Prior to the redrawing of district lines, Bee County was represented by Ruben Hinojosa. That is no longer the case.
The downside for some will be that the county will no longer have a congressional office here as it did when Hinojosa represented the area.
“This district is 11 counties long from Brownsville up to Gonzales,” Vela said during his visit to Beeville on Dec. 17.
“We have to make some very careful decisions of how we are going to staff the district.”
His current plan is to have an office in Alice and to have staff come to Beeville about once a week.
“I am trying to figure out how we can balance it out so every part of the district gets the service they deserve,” he said.
Once in office
Vela takes office Jan. 3 when he and many others will be sworn into office.
That isn’t to say that he hasn’t been working already.
“New congressional representatives go through a committee assignment process,” he said. “That is a campaign in and of itself.
“When you get to Washington, the minute you walk in, if you are a Republican you spend time with Republican representatives.”
Republicans and Democrats both appoint their own people to the committees.
“There is not a whole lot of mixing going on,” he said. “For the last three weeks, we have been working hard on that process.”
Vela said that he hoped to be on transportation, agricultural or science committees.
“Right now in Washington, the question of the day is what is going to happen with the fiscal crisis,” he said.
“A lot of people in Washington are out of the loop just the same way you are.
“Those negotiations are taking place between the president of the United States and his staff and the Republican (House of Representatives) speaker, John Boehner.
“Hopefully, what we are going to see is the speaker and the president come up with a solution for the fiscal crisis.
Helping the veterans
On hand that evening were a handful of veterans voicing their concerns about the long delays at the Veterans Administration clinics.
“The veterans clinics that have been set up across South Texas... are helping out veterans, but we are finding a few glitches,” he said. “Veterans are having difficulty getting appointments in a very short period of time.
“In some instances, it is taking two months to get an appointment for primary care.
“It doesn’t do much good if you have really the bad flu and you have to wait to see your doctor for a two-month period.”
“In Alice, the veterans officer is saying it is taking six months to get an appointment.”
Even doctors are having a difficult time getting paid by the Veterans Administration, he said.
In his own words
“I am a real honest person,” he said. “I consider myself the kind of representative that can work with everybody.
“For too long, our representatives in Washington have had us on this path of gridlock.
“We are going to have to make some difficult decisions.
“Everybody is going to have take a bit of medicine.
“Hopefully, what that means here in the short term is our fiscal crisis is resolved.
“Hopefully, that will set the stage for all these others issues that have been held up because of the gridlock whether it be immigration reform or No Child Left Behind or any all the other things we know we are having a hard time with.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.