U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud reopened the congressional offices in Victoria and Corpus Christi on Monday, promising to meet the needs of local constituents who have been without representation in the U.S. House for almost three months.
The Victoria Republican answered questions about his plans for the rest of his brief term after opening the District 27 office in Victoria.
Cloud said his offices would first return to the day-to-day work of a congressional office, helping citizens with casework and other federal issues. That work includes the Hurricane Harvey recovery process in District 27, which stretches across all or part of 13 counties.
“The federal funds that have been released to Texas have still not been released to the people who have needs, and so there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure the funding gets to where the need is,” Cloud said. “That’s going to be a long-term process, but we’re looking at making it as streamlined as possible.”
Cloud, who took his oath of office July 10, said he hasn’t yet been assigned to any congressional committees but will likely learn his assignments this week.
One of the most pressing national issues in the last weeks of Cloud’s campaign and his first days in office has been the separation of immigrant children and their families. A new border policy from President Donald Trump caused more than 2,000 immigrant children to be removed from their families after they were detained while crossing the U.S. border illegally. Trump reversed the policy after domestic and international outcry about the practice. Of the 103 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents, more than half had been reunited with their families as of Thursday, according to the federal government.
Cloud said he was happy to see families being reunited.
Advocates and lawyers for immigrant families have faulted the reunification process for being disorganized and slow-moving.
“It’s a little bit of a trickier process than it might seem for most because not everyone who comes across the border who says that this person is their child is,” Cloud said. “So in reuniting families, we have to make sure that we’re really reuniting true families and not handing children over to people who would not have the best of intent for them.”
Cloud won the special election to replace Rep. Blake Farenthold last month and will serve for the remainder of Farenthold’s term until early 2019. In November, Cloud will be up for election again, this time for the full term that begins next year. Cloud will face Corpus Christi Democrat Eric Holguin in the November election.
Cloud didn’t go into detail about his campaign plans. He said he planned to be in Washington, D.C. whenever a vote was scheduled in the House and would spend the rest of his time in District 27.
“My focus over the next several months is doing a good job,” Cloud said. “I think that’s the best way to get re-elected.”
Cloud’s predecessor resigned in April several months after the public learned a female staffer had accused the Corpus Christi Republican of sexual harassment. Farenthold used $84,000 of taxpayer money to settle the complaint.
Cloud declined to comment on whether he thought Farenthold should repay taxpayers the $84,000. Farenthold had initially said he would repay the money but later reneged.
“I’m not going to comment on Congressman Farenthold. That’s old news. It’s been litigated over and over and over in the media,” Cloud said. “I will say that I’m committed to running the highest of ethics in my office, and that will be something that’s made very clear to our staff. Integrity and character are extremely important to me as an individual, and it will be important to our staff environment.”
While preparing for the November midterm elections, Cloud declined to commit to a term limit, although he said he supported legislation to limit terms for U.S. representatives and he would work to see such legislation passed.
“Term-limiting a single district only disadvantages that district,” he said.
The congressman’s latest campaign finance filings show he received another $40,000 in contributions in the most recent filing period June 11-30.