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Inside Texas Politics: Republican congressman says economy needs help, but proposals are too expensive

“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that there’s going to have to be some type of additional help to the economy,” said Congressman Michael Burgess.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Airlines are expected to begin massive layoffs Oct. 1 in what will be another startling jolt to the Texas economy during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fort Worth-based American Airlines, for instance, says it will shed 19,000 jobs.

North Texas Congressman Michael Burgess said the economy needs a boost, but he worries about the price tag.

“I don’t think that there’s any doubt that there’s going to have to be some type of additional help to the economy,” Burgess said. “But it doesn’t need to be $3 trillion. I don’t think it has to be $2 trillion.”

Those broad figures were tossed around months ago during relief negotiations in Congress. He said there haven't been any concrete numbers proposed since. 

“At this point I haven’t seen anything written down. So it’s pretty tough to negotiate with just blue sky," Burgess said. 

He also said he doesn't know when a COVID-19 vaccine will become available. 

As the most senior medical doctor in the U.S. House of Representatives

Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s attempt to distribute a vaccine as quickly as possible, is moving ahead, but there is still no timeline on a viable shot. 

“I think it is highly likely that if you don’t have a vaccine by the end of next month, you will be close enough to know that it’s coming," said Burgess, the most senior medical doctor in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Expensive election in Harris County

The elimination of straight-ticket voting in Texas could land voters in the booth for longer. 

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins says that could lead to even longer lines. And, the state's largest county has one of the longest ballots in the nation. 

“Voters that could vote in 30 seconds previously, might take between 12 and 20 minutes to vote their entire ballot here in Harris County,” Hollins said.

Many election officials, including the Secretary of State, have warned there might not be enough poll workers. But that isn't a problem in Harris County. 

In fact, Harris said the county has received 28,000 applications for 11,000 positions.

“People know that this is the most critical election of our lifetimes," Harris said. "In addition to that, we take it as a vote of confidence that election workers know that we’re going to keep them safe." 

The county also pages $17 an hour at minimum, among the highest hourly wage for poll workers in Texas. 

RELATED: Know before you go: Changes to expect when you vote

The county’s $27 million election plan includes 120 early voting locations, 800 on Election Day, drive-thru voting and extended early voting hours Oct. 27-29. 

There will also be seven locations kept open for 24 hours on Oct. 29. 

Hollins could also face some last-minute changes.

The county remains locked in litigation over his attempt to send mail-in ballot applications to more than two million registered voters.

And a group of Republicans, including the state party’s chairman, are suing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in an attempt to shrink the early voting period from three weeks back to two.

Harris said it was his request that led the governor to extend early voting "to allow voters to have as much time as possible to vote safely during this time in a way that’s spread out so that we’re not interacting with one another and spreading this deadly virus.” 

Texas is a 'battleground state'

Sen. Ted Cruz said Texas could be a "battleground state" during this presidential election. 

President Donald Trump had a strong lead in Texas in 2016 but polls show the race between him and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is close this election.  

"Texas has become more purple," Cruz said on the latest episode of Y'all-itics.

“I believe this election is really going to come down to what happens with the economy and what happens with jobs. I think the number one priority should be reopening the economy," the senator said. 

Cruz also said the Republican push to appoint a new Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn't hypocrisy but politics

Four years ago under President Barack Obama, Republicans didn’t want to consider a judicial nominee and Democrats did.

Now, many Democrats are calling on Republicans to wait until after voters either re-elect Trump or pick a new president. 

To listen to this week's episode of Y'all-itics with Cruz, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts:

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