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BAHEP hosts Sen. Ted Cruz for virtual membership meeting

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
Bob Mitchell

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz addressed members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership during a virtual general membership meeting held on May 28, 2020. Approximately 150 BAHEP attendees listened as the senator spoke of the coronavirus pandemic, the SpaceX launch, the Payroll Protection Program, the U.S. Space Command, China, and education and workforce legislation. 
BAHEP President Bob Mitchell made welcoming remarks and served as moderator of the meeting. Following introductory comments from Sen. Cruz, Mitchell proceeded to ask questions of concern to BAHEP and its members.  
U.S. regains human launch capability
Mitchell asked the senator to comment on the significance of the U.S. regaining human launch capability and the potential of commercial space activity as a driver for the U.S. economy. Cruz answered, "It is enormously important. I have for a number of years chaired the Aviation & Space Subcommittee in the Senate and have focused on driving space policy forward in a way that we see a real, productive cooperation between NASA and commercial space to restore America’s unquestioned preeminent leadership in space.  
"This is an important threshold. It’s an important piece in the broader project to return to the moon and even more critically to go to Mars. The overarching objective for NASA is to take a human astronaut to Mars, to land on the surface of the Red Planet, and that the first astronaut who sets his or her foot on the surface of Mars will be an American astronaut.” 
Payroll Protection Program omits 501(c)(6) organizations
Mitchell then asked the senator to comment on the Payroll Protection Program regarding the omittance of 501(c)(6) organizations, to include economic development organizations and chambers of commerce, from the program.  Sen. Cruz replied, "I think that they should be included. The role that you all play in terms of helping small businesses, helping the community is always important. Now, it’s critically important. Small businesses provide two-thirds of all the new jobs in our country. The only way we get 40 million Americans back having a job is for small businesses to be open, to be growing, to be thriving and hiring. C6’s play a very important role in allowing that to happen.  
"I called Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin directly. I made the case to him that Treasury should change the rules to allow C6’s to participate. I’ve also introduced legislation that would allow C6’s to participate.”
The senator went on to say that there is a wide gulf between the House and the Senate. He’s very concerned about the potentiality of mass class action lawsuits brought about by reopening of businesses.  Senator Cruz spoke about the introduction of a liability shield for businesses saying, "It’s not clear right now how that’s going to resolve.”
The senator said he felt that the next bill that comes through needs to be a recovery bill commenting, "Its focus needs to be on helping us turn the economy around and getting people back to work.” 
Work underway to bring U.S. Space Command to Ellington Field
Mitchell then spoke about an unsolicited proposal that BAHEP, the City of Houston, and others have been working for weeks to bring the headquarters of the U.S. Space Command to Ellington Field in Houston. He asked Sen. Cruz to give his thoughts on that opportunity. The senator said that he was enthusiastic about bringing the Space Command to Texas and has spoken with the president multiple times about the issue. "I unabashedly advocate for Texas, but I don’t pick favorites when there are multiple possibilities within the state,” he stated.  
Cruz addresses significant threat by China
Mitchell then turned to international politics and asked how the United States should be dealing with China.  Sen. Cruz answered, "In my view, the most significant and long-lasting foreign policy consequence of this pandemic is going to be a fundamental reevaluation of the United States’ relationship with China.  
"I have long made the case that China will pose the most significant geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century. In a very real sense, the lies and cover-up of the corona virus by the Chinese government are the direct cause of over 300,000 lives that have been lost world-wide and trillions of dollars of economic value that has been destroyed. This crisis has really underscored the vulnerability America has, particularly in regard to our supply chain, to China. We have foolishly allowed an enormous amount of our supply chain to be drawn into China – in particular critical infrastructure.  
"This has not been accidental. The Chinese communist government laid out a very clear strategic plan to target critical infrastructure that America needed to survive.” The senator gave an example saying that an enormous percentage of the world’s personal protective equipment is made in China. He cited life-saving pharmaceuticals as another example. Sen. Cruz said that how to fix the problem will be a debate that will probably go on for years.  
Education and workforce training legislation in limbo
In response to another question posed by Mitchell about education and workforce training, Sen. Cruz closed out the 30-minute meeting by speaking of major legislation that he introduced last year. The legislation would provide $10 billion yearly, $100 billion over 10 years, in federal tax credits. The credits would be dollar-for-dollar federal matching tax credits for contributions to state scholarship granting organizations. He said that the challenge has been the significant opposition to the legislation. 
(The video of the meeting is shown below. To view the video on full screen, please click on the white headline.)

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