Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden.
Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden. AP Photo.

According to the Texas Democratic Party (TDP), 2022 was a big win for the Biden/Harris administration regarding what they were able to deliver to the American people. But because Texans swear their state is a country of its own, and because Houston is far and away the brightest star in the Lone Star State, the Defender sought to hear from Bayou City residents regarding their opinions on the impact of those Biden/Harris policies.

Tiffany Thomas, Houston City Councilmember, District F

Houston City Councilmember and PVAMU professor Tiffany Thomas.

For many of us, we are back to life post-COVID. Back to the fast-paced demands. In the midst of us returning to normal, the ARPA funds proved to not only halt a national eviction crisis, but allowed cities like Houston to address growing public safety demands and spikes in violent crimes. Because of ARPA, Houston had the largest gun buy back event in the nation, right here in District F.

Betti Wiggins, director of Mykawa Urban Garden

Well, I think it has the potential to be very positive, except it’s where they put the influence of these initiatives. If they’re talking about decreasing food insecurity and increasing access for our citizens to have more healthy food, then I would say, it’s not just about SNAP benefits. Because when you look at SNAP benefits, while they might increase the amount of money that each individual receives in SNAP, that only improves the outcome for grocers.

Betti Wiggins. Screenshot CW39.

So, you look at the economic impact, I would say, how are we sure that even though you increase those dollars so that people could spend more money on food, that money is not going to the underground economy? There’s no great secret that there’s an underground economy around SNAP benefits where people are selling them in order to get other things that you need in order to have a healthy life, like soap and toothpaste and some other things.

Dr. Willie Mae Lewis, Director Women’s Resource Center

Dr. Willie Mae Lewis

I’ve had personal experience with President Biden as a fair person in most situations. He took a stand when it was not popular to support mental health professionals with equity and insurance companies. The Biden/Harris administration, against the odds, are making movement to bring on increased housing for low-income families, cleaner air and a push for criminal justice reform.

Dr. Reagan Flowers, HCC Board Trustee

“At the end of the day, Houstonians want to be able to earn a wage that allows them to, at a minimum, have the resources to take care of their basic needs. The Biden/Harris administration economic plan did deliver some relief to Houstonians in 2022. I am a small business owner, and like many other small businesses in Houston, we received grants to help sustain our businesses. Many residents received gap funds to pay their rent which prevented many evictions.

Dr. Reagan Flowers and husband Laolu Davies. Photo by Aswad Walker.

The America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided funds that protected the salaries of first responders, such as solid waste workers and EMS. The ARPA funds were also used to house the homeless and to respond to rising domestic violence.  Many Houstonians experienced savings with prescription drugs and tax benefits associated with purchases of clean vehicles. In 2022, Houstonians felt some economic relief from the Biden/Harris administration, and many of us look forward to expanded relief and opportunities in 2023.”

Jacquelyn Aluotto, No Trafficking Zone Inc. Founder and President

The Biden/Harris administration has affected Houston both positively and negatively regarding human trafficking and commercial exploitation. This administration passed critical human trafficking legislation, but we have so much more to go. With the crisis on the border, we must regulate migrant children and their “sponsors”. We need to implement a system of structure and accountability when handling unaccompanied minor children. We must be able to track their location and who is handling them. We have seen too many youths be exploited because there is not enough oversight on the magnitude of children and their placements. They are vulnerable and that is where predators will prey first.

Bishop James Dixon, Beatrice Salyer and Jacquelyn Aluotto.

This greatly affects Houston because we have not been able yet to stop the demand for domestic minor trafficking in our state. But I am hopeful we will with laws like SB1831 No Trafficking Zones for schools in Texas. Furthermore, we must also make sure our law enforcement, district attorneys, schools, lawyers, public defenders and prosecutors are educated on these legislative processes and are mandating them. The Biden/Harris administration reenacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which is critical to all women in all communities including the indigenous. This will prevent and combat women and girls being raped on their reservation.

This also helps provide funding for domestic violence and sex trafficking. It helps protect women and children, especially in vulnerable communities which is crucial in the United States. We are hoping to see the Biden/Harris administration hold sexual predators more accountable and aggressively that prey on children. Whether they are traffickers, pimps, cartels or tech platforms and companies making it easily accessible to exploit children.

Maia Shelby (far right), seen here with Blynthia Scott and Munirah Olabisi. Photo by Aswad Walker.

Maia Shelby, Third Ward Community Cloth

Regarding the Biden/Harris administration awarding more than $8.1 million to Texas in “Internet for All” planning grants, this infrastructure infusion of dollars to address, diminish and/or eliminate the digital divide in communities of color will not only positively impact Houstonians, but all Texans.

Here’s some feedback from outside of Houston:

“2022 has been an historic year of Democrats delivering for the American people,” read a press release from the TDP. “In addition to strengthening the economy and overseeing historic job creation, President Biden and Texas Democrats in Congress delivered big legislative wins, including the Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, PACT Act, Emmett Till Antilynching Act, Postal Service Reform Act, Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization, and the Respect for Marriage Act – all landmark achievements that deliver for working families and protect fundamental freedoms.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the TDP, agrees.

“Another year of President Biden’s historic presidency is coming to a close – and across Texas, working families are feeling the positive impacts of the Biden-Harris Administration’s and Texas Democrats’ work this past year in Washington,” said Hinojosa. “In 2022, President Biden’s and Texas Democrats’ economic plan helped generate historic job growth and lower everyday costs for working Texas families.”

Hinojosa also counted as victories state tech manufacturing and innovation; Texas becoming one of the world’s foremost hubs for semiconductor manufacturing; Texas veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins receiving long-overdue health care benefits; and more.

“In 2023, while Texas Republicans engage in meaningless culture wars and continue their push further and further toward the far-right MAGA extreme, President Biden and our Texas Democrats in Congress will continue actually governing – and delivering tangible results for everyday Texans,” said Hinojosa.

Here are a few highlights of what the Biden/Harris administration delivered in 2022, according to the Texas Democratic Party:

  • Signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law
  • First major gun safety legislation in decades
  • Historic job growth
  • Historically low unemployment
  • Signed CHIPS and Science Act into law
  • Confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
  • Expanded NATO alliance
  • Rallied our allies in support for Ukraine
  • Signed PACT Act into law for veterans 
  • Issued executive orders to safeguard access to reproductive health care
  • Record enrollment in the Affordable Care Act
  • Historic funding for HBCUs
  • Reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act
  • Signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...