us congress

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Congressman George Thomas “Mickey” Leland.

Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are asking the White House to respect the voters of Colorado and Washington, who decided that recreational marijuana use should be legal.

In a letter sent to President Obama, they wrote:

Todd Wiseman / Julie Jordan Scott, Texas Tribune

As Congress debates proposed cuts to programs that help feed needy families and school children, some school officials and advocates for low-income families are concerned about how the changes could affect Texans who rely on food stamps and reduced price school lunches.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, provides food for 3.6 million Texans each year. But some lawmakers argue that the program has grown too large and become too expensive, and they are looking for ways to cut SNAP in the 2012 Farm Bill.

"A lot of Texas families rely on SNAP, especially now," said Jonathan Lewis, food policy specialist for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based liberal think tank. "Families that already are having trouble paying for their electrical bill, rent and the gas in their car could struggle even more." 

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Texas airports are feeling the effect of a partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration. Funding for the agency expired on Friday because of disagreement among federal lawmakers. Two major projects were halted today and more than 250 workers were temporarily laid off this morning.

Almost all of the 267 furloughed Texas employees work in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. None worked in Austin. The FAA employees were responsible for coordinating grant money and overseeing airport construction planning across the state.

Photos by Caleb Bryant Miller & Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the nine-term, liberal Austin congressman, foiled Republicans’ efforts to redistrict him out of office in 2003 and intends to do it again in 2012, living “in a Winnebago, if that’s what it takes,” to vie for a newly-drawn district that encompasses San Antonio’s most Democratic and Hispanic neighborhoods and spreads up to southern Travis County.

The Republican Legislature drew him a bad map again this year, and getting through March’s Democratic primary could be a doozy. At a minimum, Doggett will face State Rep. Joaquin Castro, a 36-year-old rising star in his party who has politics in his DNA — his identical twin brother Julián is San Antonio’s mayor — and grew up in one of the San Antonio neighborhoods central to the new district.

Photo by Texas Tribune

Michael Williams is officially out of the Senate race and in the race for a new congressional seat based in Arlington.

He said earlier this month he was considering a switch, and now that the Legislature has approved congressional redistricting maps that include the new district, he's filing papers with the Federal Election Commission moving from the Senate contest to the race for Congress.