At critical point in economy’s recovery, U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne emphasizes local infrastructure, supporting small businesses

United States Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne is the newest member of North Texas’ congressional delegation, having been elected to represent Texas’ 24th district in the House of Representatives last November. However, Rep. Van Duyne is not new to public service.

During the Dallas Regional Chamber’s latest Legislative Speaker Series event, on May 10, Rep. Van Duyne emphasized the importance of local government experience in setting public policy at the federal level. She served on Irving’s city council from 2004 to 2010 and then as the first woman elected Mayor of Irving from 2011 to 2017.

“As mayor, my focus was on economic development, public safety, and providing the best quality of life for everybody who visited and who lived in my city, and I approach being in Congress the same exact way,” Rep. Van Duyne said in a discussion led by DRC CEO Dale Petroskey.

Rep. Van Duyne joins Congress at a critical time. The United States added 266,000 jobs in April, a weaker than expected number that economists are continuing to examine. However, President Joe Biden’s American Rescue plan contains $50 billion dedicated to supporting small businesses, including $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). And both parties in Congress are taking advantage of the return of earmark spending. More than 300 House Democrats and Republicans have requested federal funding, totaling nearly $21 billion, with most projects focused on local infrastructure needs.

Rep. Van Duyne noted the debate around the return of earmarks and the opportunity to put potential funds to good use. She created a committee of local leaders to discuss projects that would best help the region.

“I guess maybe it’s my bias from being a local elected official, that it’s the mayors, it’s the council members, it’s the state legislators that are closest to the people. They understand what those projects are – we need to listen to them,” Rep. Van Duyne said.

Rep. Van Duyne was selected to serve on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, both coveted positions for a freshman in Congress. She said she was optimistic a bipartisan deal could be reached on infrastructure.

“Historically, transportation and infrastructure has been the least partisan committee, which is why I wanted to be on it,” Rep. Van Duyne said. “We haven’t necessarily seen that in the last 100 days, but I’m hopeful moving forward that I can work with folks on both sides of the aisle to bring forward the programs and the projects that would be the most competitive and in the best interest of Texas and our nation.”

However, Rep. Van Duyne made clear her opposition to President Biden’s proposal to finance an infrastructure package by raising the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28%.

“I believe that increasing the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28% would be disastrous for the economy. The businesses that I’ve spoken to in the district have told me that,” Rep. Van Duyne said. “We’re going to lose that edge, and that concerns me, as well as a number of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I think you’re going to see further discussions about that.”

As for policies directed toward small businesses, Rep. Van Duyne noted the growth of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the uncertainty surrounding forgiveness of PPP loans.

“This went from a $17 billion a year department to almost $1 trillion almost overnight, so they’re trying to hire people as best they can,” Rep. Van Duyne said. “I’m the ranking member on oversight for small business, and we’ve had plenty of discussions on what SBA needs and what right now they are failing on.”

Finally, Rep. Van Duyne urged businesses to reach out to her office with stories of what they need as they work to reopen their doors.

“Really the bolstering of our economy is going to be key to getting over this pandemic,” Rep. Van Duyne said.

The Legislative Speaker Series event, held virtually via Zoom, was presented by Toyota Motor North America. View the highlights from the conversation with Rep. Van Duyne.