Bill Flores

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Tribune-Herald at his Austin Avenue office Feb. 24.

In his radio call-in town hall meeting Thursday night, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores told listeners he "worries about how governable the country is today" because the U.S. "is exceptionally polarized."

The congressman, whose 17th District includes Brazos County, said the U.S. is still "a great country" but has its "challenges" because, among other things, "people spend so much damn time fighting with each other."

The radio call-in event, which was also broadcast on Facebook Live, was Flores's last of three successive nights of telephone town halls, a format that raised questions from some constituents who publicly called for in-person town halls. In an email sent before Thursday's radio show, which aired on WTAW-AM, Flores's communications director, Andre Castro, wrote that 5,200 people were on the telephone line and 8,950 watched the Facebook Live stream during the first two nights' tele-formats. On Thursday night, the count on Flores's Facebook page livestream listed 1,400 views of the 90-minute town hall. Broadcast numbers for WTAW were not immediately available.

Listeners called, emailed and posted questions on a range of topics Thursday night, including healthcare, immigration, veterans' benefits, Social Security and Medicare, abortion, taxes and Trump's first 100 days in office.

Flores said House Republicans "are our own worst enemy right now" and that "it is reprehensible to attack your own quarterback" by not taking advantage of Republican control of the Legislative and Executive branches of government, suggesting that Trump can get moderates and Freedom Caucus members in line.

"The president's got a pretty powerful Twitter following," he said.

Much of Flores's radio event centered on the Affordable Care Act, which he said was in a "death spiral" and an "absolute failure," echoing common rhetoric among his Republican colleagues. Flores hinted at forthcoming healthcare legislation as Republicans try again to repeal and replace the ACA with another healthcare system that lowers premiums while offering consumers more choices in coverage.

Flores said he supports a path of earned citizenship for DACA recipients -- commonly referred to as "dreamers."

"I believe we ought to have a path to legal status" for other law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, he said. Flores said he thinks such a path should result in a permanent green card, not citizenship.

Flores said raids under the Trump administration have resulted in fewer deportations of immigrants who do not have criminal records than those deported under the Obama administration. According to a recent Newsweek story, arrests of immigrants are up by 33 percent, but deportations are down by 1.2 percent, compared to a similar timeframe from last year.

Flores said he "really will" discuss Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago with the president; CNN recently reported Trump's repeated traveling to Florida has cost around $20 million in his first 80 days in office, putting him on pace to surpass Obama's eight-year travel spending in less than a year.

Flores said it was "inappropriate" for taxpayers to fund Trump's repeated trips to the so-called "Winter White House," and said Camp David would be a fine alternative for a president eager to leave D.C.

He might not agree with everything the president has done in his first near-100 days in office, but Flores said Trump's easing of federal regulations has been "remarkable" because "it's much more of a proper balance between growth and protection."

Still, Flores said he'd hoped the Affordable Care Act would have been repealed and replaced by now, but "everything else is on track."

Flores also talked about exempting community banks from the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the future of healthcare for veterans, the need to reform Medicare and Social Security so future generations can benefit, net neutrality and internet regulation, the privitization of American airspace, and, as Thursday was 4/20, his thoughts on the legalization of marijuana. ("I don't feel strongly one way or another." He also said it was a state issue.)

Speaking about the constituents who do not agree with his policies, Flores said his job was to "try to vote in Congress the same way the biggest number of constituents would vote," and that "there are some people who do not ideologically align with the center of gravity of this district," which the congressman described as "center-right."

Aside from the ideological belief, Flores said he shared common ground with some of his more left-leaning constituents, namely his support of a path to legal status for law-abiding, undocumented immigrants, his stance on DACA recipients, his opposition to the president's border wall and his believe that basic research funding is "a good way to spend tax dollars."

"There are some areas where we're common," he said.

To watch the Facebook Live recording of the radio call-in show, go to www.facebook.com/RepBillFlores/.

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(6) comments

roy g

"the U.S. is still 'a great country' but has its 'challenges' because, among other things, 'people spend so much d*mn time fighting with each other.'"

Exhibit A - the earlier comments here that reflect exactly the polarization Flores referred to, the now continual hostility between the more liberal thinkers on one side and the rabidly extreme RINO's on the other who, a minority of the population and their own party, fancy themselves as the majority view. Based only on the statements made by Flores on his positions, he appears to be a moderate Republican, a real Republican who sees both sides of some issues and stands on positions as evidenced by the majority of his constituents or the population. Flores' stance is, of course, only as accurate as the veracity of his words.

Flores' statements on moderation notwithstanding, TexasEagle2 still finds him unacceptably conservative, describing him as "radical right", as if expecting any Republican might hold completely liberal views. This is highly unrealistic. And then on the other side, of course, we have two of the most radical rightwing regulars for whom nothing short of an alt-right Fascist utopia would likely be satisfactory, roundly condemning Flores for daring to not hold to 100% of all their fringe beliefs.

As long as such extremes are the norm, there will be little or no progress, because the principles of extremism brook no compromise, no two-way dialog, no surrender. Extremist ideologues would rather lose political battles, gaining nothing or even losing everything, than sully their reputations by working together with "the enemy" to gain anything at all. George Washington knew the dangers that awaited the country when the classic two-party system ran to its most extreme manifestations. His words back then ring true more than ever today - a house divided cannot stand, and we invite tyranny to solve our dissent:

"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection."

- George Washington, Farewell Address, 17 September 1796

Brazos County Citizen

So it appears you have assessed Flores as I did, a moderate. Sorry, holding an elective representative accountable for not keeping his campaign promises as a "conservative" doesn't make one a "radical right wing alt-right fascist."

George Washington's warning about political parties is already well known to TP Patriots. Why are you quoting him when your side rejects anything said by a slave owner?

Brazos County Citizen

At least Flores is now being open about his left leaning stances on issues which are totally out of step with the majority of his constituents. He is ripe to be booted out by a real conservative who only needs to remind voters of Flores' support for the recent Obamacare Repeal in Name Only garbage bill authored by progressive Paul Ryan and his agreement with Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, and Schumer on complete amnesty for illegals who take American jobs, use public assistance, and whose kids have flooded public schools.

Can anyone point to anything he has done to reduce the size of government or bring the federal budget into balance? No, don't think so. Conservative Review gives Flores a "D" on their Liberty Score because almost half the time he votes liberal on issues such as education, health care & entitlements, and civil liberties.

Thankfully we still have a handful of real, principled, Constitutionally-focused conservatives in the Congress. Flores is definitely NOT one of them.

Peter Witt

Bill, as a member of the radical right, you are one of the reasons politics is so polarized. Move to the center, learn to compromise...stop taking extreme positions...become a human being.

BCS

Ironic coming from someone who's side supports riots, burning down buildings, and assaulting anyone in their way, especially if the person isn't a radical leftist.

Brazos County Citizen

"Member of the radical right" and "extreme positions?" Wow, to say that you must be ultra extreme leftist. I'd say Flores is mostly a moderate with a few conservative tendencies at best. He's solid on his opposition to abortion yet agrees with you on amnesty for illegals and that government should be involved in health care. He's been there too long and has become too fond in his power. Time for a change.

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