Government shutdown demonstrates lack of leadership

The Republican Congress and Donald Trump’s White House just shut the government down.  They will tell you otherwise, but when you control all the levers of power in DC, the buck stops with you.

U.S. Capitol at Dusk
Credit: Martin Falbisoner (Wikimedia Commons)

When you control power in DC, the buck stops with you.


My wife works at NASA, so this hits especially close to home for my family and many in our community.  Ultimately this was an unnecessary development that will harm people across our district and country and end up costing the taxpayers additional billions of dollars for nothing.

The failure of Rep. Babin and Congressional Republicans to secure funding for Harvey recovery is a letdown of leadership.  Texas and other hurricane and wild fire ravaged areas of our country are in desperate need of funding to rebuild and prepare for the next disaster season, but Republicans chose to play politics over having our backs.

Our current Congressman could’t care less about tackling the problems we face.


I’m a scientist and former small town mayor, so I get what it takes to reach agreements and get stuff done.  Our current Congressman is more concerned with stoking the base and echoing the President, and couldn’t care about tackling the problems we face and that good government can address.

Babin and Trump tax bill are moving U.S. in the wrong direction

Jon Powell published an open letter to incumbent Representative Brian Babin in Sunday’s Polk County Enterprise. Here is the text in its entirety.

Mr. Babin:

You are wrong: we want affordable healthcare and good-paying jobs, not elected officials who reward the wealthiest Americans and big corporations with over $1 TRILLION in tax cuts.

Babin Tax Tweet 10 Jan 2018
Babin Tax Tweet 10 Jan 2018

You and Donald Trump are moving our country in the wrong direction. People are upset because you are rewarding big corporations over working families across Southeast Texas.

Adding $1.5 TRILLION to the debt our kids and grandkids will have to pay is inexcusable. Let’s use that money for our kids and veterans, NOT rewards for corporate CEOs and billionaires.


Jon Powell
Democratic candidate for Congress
Texas District 36


Post-Hurricane Harvey: Rebuilding for the Future

The Texas Tribune published my op ed piece on September 7 on how to move forward after Hurricane Harvey, and how to prepare for the next big storm.

before and after views of Port Aransas
Aransas Pass before and after Hurricane Harvey, August 2017. Credit: NOAA

Invest in real solutions to real problems

How do we rebuild? How do we prepare for the future? To live in the place we all love, we must be willing to invest in solutions to the problems we know exist; we must ensure that Harvey relief makes us whole and gives us the resources to make the Texas Gulf Coast ready for the next hurricane.

A basic function of government is to protect us. Ask yourself if laws and regulations that were in place before Harvey struck made the situation better or worse. Who advocated for those bad policies? Was it the people who have a financial incentive to not spend the necessary funds for protection and their bought-and-paid-for lawmakers? How do we change the debate so we are talking about real solutions to real problems?

Our leaders must work for us

With floodwaters still flowing in parts of Texas, and Hurricane Irma eyeing the U.S. mainland, the current political talk is about tax cuts for the wealthy or the residency status of nearly 800,000 children and young adults. These are not the priorities of folks who lost everything in Winnie, Port Aransas, Orange, Beaumont, and Houston—and many cities in between.

Our leaders must work for us, not for folks who want to avoid paying to do the right thing.


Texas’ 36th District faces unique problems

Our District is unique because of the major concentration of refineries and petrochemical plants, and shipping lanes, along the Texas Gulf Coast. The effects of Hurricane Harvey reached well beyond the Texas borders, impacting 40 percent of the U.S. petrochemicals market (See CNBC, Harvey threatens to choke off supply of critical chemicals , plastics to U.S. manufacturers). Our District is concerned with the effects of storm surge. And southeast Texas has several protected wildlife areas.

I am a geologist by training, an environmental and risk assessment consultant by trade, so I know the unique problems we face as we work to recover. We need to make sure that DC gives us what we need to rebuild, and does it in a way that helps protect from future storms.

Air Assault in Houston and Across Texas

President Trump, Congress and the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality are actively working to increase pollution of the air we breathe. In Houston and across Texas we need to protect our children and families from deadly fumes.

Trump and the Republicans in Congress, including Congressional District 36 representative Brian Babin, are axing the EPA’s budget by a third. That means far less enforcement of Clean Air laws, in addition to weakening laws and regulations to clean our air. Likewise, Republican leaders in Texas cut TCEQ’s funds by $6M to cut back enforcement of  environmental projection in our communities.

Air Assault article by Houston Chronicle

Traffic on I-45 in Houston's Central Business District
Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle

Whether you live in Houston or in Orange, or other small towns or rural areas, the dirty air will find you as it moves across county lines. Support a solid opponent to Brian Babin. Jon Powell has the technical knowledge and experience to stand up to the weak rationals the GOP uses to break down environmental protections of the air we breathe.