Congressman Ron Wright (R-TX-6), on the campaign trial in Waxahachie as he seeks a second term, seemed to declare victory, not of the political kind, but over his battle with lung cancer.
Wright, 66, stopped by the Daily Light for an exclusive interview, Thursday.
“In the last two scans, my liver is clear, lymph nodes are clear. There’s nothing there,” Wright explained. “The primary tumor is smaller than a raisin, so it’s working. I have chemo tomorrow, and then we’re going to do a scan the week before Thanksgiving and we’re expecting more good news because everything has been an improvement. It’s been phenomenal.”
The freshman congressman shocked many of his Facebook followers in July when he shared his diagnosis. The 6th District representative, however, did not break from his congressional duties.
“I started responding positively to the treatment immediately,” Wright said. “I wouldn’t wish the treatment on anybody. It will knock you to the curb, but we got through it and I maintain a very busy schedule.”
His busy schedule includes reaching across the aisle in a deeply divided House to introduce legislation through bipartisan efforts.
“If I can find somebody of goodwill, I can work with that person,” Wright said. “Yes, we’re going to obviously have political differences. I’m not just a republican. I’m a conservative Republican, and I have a record to back that up, however, I have a willingness to work with people and we can get a lot of things done… and we do that. Most of the bills passed in congress are done on a bipartisan basis.”
The congressman said he is working with Democrat Representative David Trone (D-MD-6) on H.R.4073 or the Expanding Educational Opportunities for Justice-Impacted Communities Act. The bill would repeal the ban on Pell Grants and federal financial aid for incarcerated individuals and those convicted of certain drug offenses. The bill also supports increasing the amount of pell grant funds available to people who choose to attend a vocational or trade school instead of a traditional college.
“We’ve made a serious mistake, telling, now, two generations of American kids that if you’re not sitting in a classroom on a college campus, then you’re not getting an education. That’s a big lie. It really is,” Wright emphasized. “And if you don’t think that a technical certification is not an education, then you’ve never been a licensed plumber or electrician or welder… that, by the way, are paying better than a lot of people with college education.”
There’s a huge demand for skilled labor, the congressman added.
Construction and extraction occupations are expected to grow by 10 percent – that’s 704,000 new jobs - between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Additionally, the median annual wage for all construction and extraction occupations was $46,010 in May 2018.
Wright said another bipartisan education legislation he cosponsored, this time with Congressman Ben McAdams (D-UT-4), is H.R.4083 or the Fund for Innovation and Success in Higher Education (FINISH) Act. The bill seeks to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to support only innovative, evidence-based approaches in postsecondary education that benefit all students.
“It takes existing funds and creates a grant program for higher education to promote innovative ways, new ideas, to help keep kids in college, and the thing that makes this one different from other federal grant programs – we only pay for what works,” Wright elaborated. “If you got an idea, you’ve got an innovative way you think is going to keep kids in college and it works, we’re gonna fund it. If it doesn’t work, guess what? You’re not getting the money. So, it’s more of a responsible way to achieve that end without wasting a lot of money on ideas that don’t work.”
The congressman admitted, however, that partisan politics have prevented progress on key issues including immigration reform.
“There’s not going to be any comprehensive immigration reform,” Wright stated. The country obviously needs it, not only to secure the border and control the border, but our entire immigration system needs to be overhauled… Well, that’s not going to happen… You can find ways to get things done with the other side. Unfortunately, you can’t get the big things done.”
Wright also chided the Democrats for the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
“They made such a big political controversy over this phone call to the president of the Ukraine and asking him to assist with the investigation of what happened in 2016,” Wright explained. “Only later in the conversation did he bring up the Bidens but when he asked or his help it was to help the attorney general of the United States with his investigation of the 2016 election…”
There hasn’t been any violation of law yet that they found,” the congressman added.
Democrats, on the other hand, maintain that President Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a Sept. 25 press release. “… It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign. Either the President does not know the weight of his words or he does not care about ethics or his constitutional responsibilities.”
While the impeachment inquiry plays out, Wright is focused on defending his 6th District seat against Democrat challenger Stephen Daniel, a Waxahachie-based lawyer of the Clay Jenkins & Associates firm.
“I understand he is a law partner of the county judge of Dallas. There’s the first black mark against him,” the 66-year-old countered. “We live in a Democracy. Anybody is free to run for office. I can tell him we will be ready, and I have an excellent record for a freshman member of congress… Good luck running against that record.”
The District has not been represented by a Democrat since 1983.