The Kerrville Daily Times: Rep. Chip Roy is riding high after legislative win, still faces re-election battle

Rep. Chip Roy is riding high these days, especially after a major legislative victory, but he’s also in an unusual position as being labeled as a “conservative firebrand” but someone to reach across the aisle to make a deal with Democrats.

The first-term Republican Congressman, who represents the expansive 21st District, which includes Kerr County, is facing a re-election fight, but he’s also focused on trying to find solutions in the wake of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

During an interview Friday on KDT Live, The Kerrville Daily Times weekday webcast on Facebook Live, Roy spoke about his legislative victory, but also the importance of finding some commonality with colleagues not of his party.

“Everyone likes to define and pigeonhole people, look I’m an unapologetic conservative, y’all know that, I’ve been out and visited with y’all,” Roy said. “But I’m less of a partisan than people think. I will fly into the sun against my own Republican colleagues as much as Democrat colleagues, I just want to advance what’s in the best interest of Texas and the district.”

As a new member of Congress, Roy found friendship with Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat. The two of them teamed up last month to write a bill that would work to ease the burdens on small businesses that had accepted Payroll Protection Program loans.

“There’s a lot of stuff we agree on when it comes to balancing budgets,” Roy said of his partnership with Phillips. “In March as all of this is unfolding, we talked about our shared concern about small businesses. I represent 2,300 restaurants that employ 53,000 people. I represent hotels from resorts to boutiques to tiny hotels on the side of the road. I represent barbershops and live music venues.”

What the two saw was a need to give those businesses flexibility on the PPP loans. The Associated Press reported the new bill eases restrictions, including allowing businesses to use the loan money for 24 weeks, not eight, and expands how much of the assistance is required to be spent on payroll costs. Small businesses can now use at least 60 percent of the loan on payroll costs and 40 percent on other costs.

In turn, the bill picked up steam in the House of Representatives and was passed 417-1. It passed in the Senate and was signed into law by President Donald Trump on June 5.

“I was happy to be in the White House, a week ago today, to have the president sign it,” Roy said.

Part of what shaped his thinking on the bill was a visit he had to Kerrville on April 28 where he met with restaurant owners, who had formed an association to help them manage through the struggles of the coronavirus shutdown. In that banquet room at Buzzie’s Bar-B-Q, Roy was peppered with questions about easing the restrictions or getting help with the PPP loans.

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