Honors Congressman Kevin Brady

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On Wednesday, October 18, 2017 the Huffington Award Luncheon took place at the Hilton Americas-Houston. The Roy M. Huffington Award for Contributions to International Understanding is named after its first recipient, Roy M. Huffington, Texas oilman, philanthropist, and founder of Asia Society Texas Center. It is the highest honor awarded by Asia Society Texas Center. Past recipients include former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson; former Secretary of State, James A. Baker III; President George H. W. Bush; and former Prime Minister of Australia, the Honorable Kevin Rudd.

This year’s recipient is the Honorable Kevin Brady, representative of the 8th Congressional District of Texas and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. In the latter capacity, Congressman Brady focuses on advancing solutions to enhance economic freedom and strengthen America’s economy for the long term. Previously, Brady chaired the Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee, served as chairman and vice chairman of the bicameral Joint Economic Committee, chaired the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, and played a major role in passing the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement.

KTRK-TV Channel 13 reporter, Pooja Lodhia was the first to address the luncheon by extending a warm welcome to everyone in attendance. Opening remarks and sponsor recognition were delivered by Edward R. Allen, senior partner of Eagle Global Advisors and chairman of Asia Society Texas Center, and Bonna Kol, president of Asia Society Texas Center. The Honorable Kevin Brady was introduced by Charles C. Foster, the chairman of Foster LLP and luncheon co-chair.

The centerpiece of the event was the discussion between the Honorable Kevin Brady and Dr. John W. Diamond, the Edward A. and Hermena Hancock Kelly Fellow in Public Finance at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Diamond led the question portion of the discussion. After presenting his own introduction, Diamond asked several questions of the congressman, which touched on his background, his mentors, his family life, and how he became involved in politics. Before answering, Brady thanked Dr. Diamond and the Asia Society Texas Center for having him and noted the importance of the Asia Society in building bridges of understanding between the West and Asia.

Candid with his answers to Diamond’s questions, Brady mentioned the positive influence of his mother, who was a single parent bringing up five children. He called her remarkable. From her, he learned the values of independence, optimism, and giving back. Brady credited his family and his background with shaping him. He also said his family led him into politics. After serving on the city council in his home town, he was drawn into the state legislature.

From there, Diamond asked about the importance of free trade, which of the trade agreements the congressman found the most challenging, and the impact of the United States withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Agreement. In response, Brady stated that the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, his first, was his most difficult. He went on to say that free trade is of great value to the United States because such a large part of the economy depends on it. According to Brady, it gives Americans the freedom to buy and sell anywhere in the world with little government interference and lifts families and countries out of poverty. He even went so far as to say it is our greatest freedom. Regarding the Trans-Pacific Agreement, Brady felt withdrawal from it will have a serious impact, and he hoped ways to improve the agreement will be found so that it is not abandoned.

When asked what other pieces of legislation he would like to be remembered for, Brady responded with, “tax reform.” He stated there was an urgency for it, as well as an opportunity. According to Brady, the new tax code is designed to grow both the economy and family income. The importance of bipartisanship was also touched on, and, among other things, Brady mentioned there was more common ground on matters of social security, health care, and Medicare than we hear. 

In conclusion, Diamond asked the congressman if he had any more remarks he would like to add. Brady responded by thanking him for leading the discussion and left the audience with a final thought. He cautioned that we must guard against a world driven into anger and divisiveness. Using the example of the people of the City of Houston after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, who worked together with hope in their hearts, Brady encouraged leaders to do the same and to take special care to lead with optimism.

Patrick C. Oxford, chairman of Bracewell, and David Payne, vice president of Drilling and Completions, Chevron Corporation, presented the Honorable Kevin Brady with the Huffington Award. Pooja Lodhia closed the luncheon by thanking everyone for their participation.

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