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Rep. Will Hurd Of Texas Kicks Off Dairy Queen Town Hall Tour

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Members of Congress are back home in their districts. They should be having barbecues and pool time before the school year starts up again. But lawmakers are finding it hard to kick back after a deeply unproductive legislative session in Washington. Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas has been working, although he hasn't picked the worst spot to do it, Dairy Queen. He has been talking to voters at Dairy Queens across his district. He's calling it a D.C. to DQ tour. And here he is at a stop yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILL HURD: When it comes to health care, you've got to do a couple things. You've got to increase access and decrease cost of health care, right? And that bill didn't do it. And that's why I voted against it.

GREENE: This morning, Congressman Hurd is in alpine in Western Texas. And he joins us. Congressman, good morning.

HURD: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.

GREENE: Well, thanks for coming on. The burning question - what - do you have time for ice cream? What do you order at these Dairy Queens?

HURD: (Laughter) I do. So, you know, what's great about Dairy Queens - they have - you know, each stop has usually a little bit different menu on Blizzards.

GREENE: Yeah.

HURD: So I go Blizzard Mini.

GREENE: Oh, nice (laughter). I had a small caramel cheesecake Blizzard the other night in Pennsylvania.

HURD: (Laughter).

GREENE: But, anyway, we should get to more important things. What are you hearing from voters?

HURD: Well, you hear a lot about veterans issues. I think this is a consistent theme that I've been hearing for the two and a half years that I've heard in Congress. You also hear that people want to see Congress actually work together to get things done. Let's try and send a D or R or whatever jersey you like to where and get things done for the American people. And it's good feedback because one of the reasons that I think Congress has such a low approval rating is that, sometimes, what we talk about up in Washington, D.C., is different than what people talk about at home. And that's why I crisscrossed these 29 counties that I represent. It takes 10 and a half hours to drive across my district.

GREENE: Well, let me ask you, if I can, about one issue where there seems to be a movement towards Republicans and Democrats working together. And that's health care. Although, I'm sure you have some Republican voters who were very adamant about wanting the Affordable Care Act - Obamacare - repealed and replaced as quickly as possible. And you made a difficult decision to vote against that repeal and replace plan in the House. Do some voters think you broke a promise to them?

HURD: No, because the reality is I always focus on the outcome. You know, sometimes, in political competitions, we only talk about the tactic. And so I've always said, who cares what the verb is before Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act? The outcome that we're trying to achieve is that, in the individual market, how do you increase access to and decrease cost of health care? And the the bright light is this plan that 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans have been working on in the House. Senate had some hearings on it before they left for the summer. And I think the only way we're going to solve some of these big problems is by working together. And what happens is a lot of people haven't heard of that in my district.

GREENE: Heard of working together?

HURD: Well, heard of this plan that was...

GREENE: OK, the bipartisan plan.

HURD: The bipartisan plan, right? And so that's one of the reasons you also have to get out into these districts - is talking about what is going on. And, you know, in your lead into this segment, you talked about an unproductive Congress. Well, there have been some examples of things that have happened. I use examples of where we actually work together - on the 21st Century Cures Act of last year, the Every Student Should Succeed Act, you know, of last year. You know, there are - we have a model of how working together actually achieves positive legislation for all Americans.

GREENE: Do you - do voters - I don't know - react thinking that you're talking from a completely different city than they hear about? I mean, Washington is so polarized. You know, there's been such reluctance to work together in both parties. I mean, do they believe you when you say that you're making an effort for bipartisanship?

HURD: Oh, absolutely, you know, because I have examples. And, yeah, Washington, D.C., is indeed a circus. But there are those examples of how we have worked together. And that's what folks want to see us doing. And, honestly, there is not enough of that going on and not enough focus and attention on it in the media. And so that's why we go and show some of these examples.

GREENE: Let me just ask you very quickly about the wall along the border. A lot of your voters don't want a wall built. You've said you agree with them. Is it hard to break with the president on that?

HURD: No, it's not. Building a wall from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way of border security. Let's use technology and manpower and have a smart wall along our border to secure it.

GREENE: OK. Congressman Hurd, thanks so much for joining us this morning. And enjoy those Blizzards. We appreciate it.

HURD: (Laughter) Thank you.

GREENE: Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.