Tag Archives: John Cornyn

Wall between Texas and Mexico: daunting task, indeed

Donald J. Trump presumably counted on unanimous support from Texas’s Republican congressional delegation to build The Wall separating the state from Mexico.

He didn’t get it. Imagine that, will ya?

GOP Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior U.S. senator, hedged significantly on whether he wants to spend $5.7 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He met with the president today in McAllen, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Patrick wants The Wall erected so badly that he reportedly — according to Trump — offered to have the state pay for its construction.

Cornyn, though, says the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico is quite geographically diverse. He is not sure about how much he wants to spend, but it appears that he isn’t on board with the $5.7 billion the president wants.

Consider, too, that the entire length of the Texas-Mexico border runs along the Rio Grande River, which presents an entirely different set of circumstances confronting other border states. New Mexico, Arizona and California are bordered along land with Mexico; the Texas border meanders a bit, much of it through some very rough, and scenic territory. We also have that big ol’ national park at Big Bend with which to deal.

Oh, and then we have that thing called “eminent domain,” given that almost all the land along our border is held privately. The government cannot seize that land without offering “just compensation,” as it is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s going to get really expensive to build it.

So, how much support does The Wall have? Politico talked to 17 House members and senators who represent states and House districts along the border. Just two of them — Cruz and fellow Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona — said they support The Wall.

Trump boasts about GOP solidarity. Yep, the party sounds pretty solid, all right, but not in the way the president keeps saying.

ACA ruling puts GOP in a bit of a pickle

Donald Trump, obviously, is happy that a Texas-based federal judge has declared the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.

However, are his fellow Republicans thrilled with Judge Reed O’Connor’s wide-ranging ruling? Not . . . exactly.

Many GOP congressional candidates campaigned for election and re-election in this year’s midterm election promising to protect one of the ACA’s key provisions: to cover “pre-existing” medical conditions for those who have purchased insurance under the landmark legislation.

But the judge said the ACA violates the Constitution because of legislation that stripped out the individual mandate provision, which requires Americans to have insurance or else face civil penalties. You can’t do that, Judge O’Connor said.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, two Texas Republicans, have remained quiet about the ruling. So has Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. You’d think they would join the president in extolling the decision.

Here’s the deal, though: The ACA remains popular among Americans. National Public Radio reports that a Kaiser Family Foundation poll declares that 53 percent of Americans like the ACA. What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the legislation enacted in 2010 during President Obama’s first term and stands as the former president’s landmark domestic legislative triumph.

So, what are GOP politicians going to do? Will they buy into the judge’s ruling and then try to explain to voters why they campaigned in favor of key ACA provisions?

This matter surely is headed for an appeal that well could end up in front of the nation’s highest court eventually. A single judge’s ruling isn’t likely to pull the plug on the ACA; it will remain in effect until a higher court makes the definitive decision.

The nation’s Republican politicians, though, now find themselves squirming and wiggling for ways to justify what they said on the campaign trail while praising a judge’s decision to scrap the Affordable Care Act.

 

Beto seeking to channel Honest Abe?

I already have declared my belief that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke shouldn’t run for president of the United States in 2020. My belief is that he doesn’t yet have the seasoning or the experience to take on such a monstrous responsibility.

But then . . .

A thought occurs to me.

Another American politician lost a bitter campaign to the U.S. Senate and two years later he, too, was elected president.

Abraham Lincoln, anyone?

Lincoln ran for the Senate from Illinois, but lost to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. The failed Senate candidate already had served in the U.S. House, but decided to push for higher office.

Having lost that bid, Lincoln licked his wounds — and then decided to go for an even bigger prize in 1860. That year he was elected president, but after he was nominated by the Republican National Convention on the third ballot. It was a struggle to win the party nomination. Lincoln’s presidency would prove to be the ultimate trial by fire, with the nation ripped apart by the Civil War.

OK, let’s hit the fast-forward button for a moment.

Does this sound like a scenario that Beto O’Rourke might follow were he to declare his own presidential candidacy? Democratic party activists and big-money donors say they want him to consider it. They like the young man’s energy and the passion he infuses into his supporters. He damn near beat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in heavily Republican Texas earlier this month and that has Democrats all agog over his future.

The Washington Post reports that O’Rourke’s near-success in Texas has turned the Democratic primary outlook into a chaotic mess.

O’Rourke, who’s finishing his term as a congressman from El Paso, will enter private life and just might consider whether to make the plunge yet again, only reaching for the very top rung on the ladder.

Or . . . he might decide to take on Texas’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, in 2020.

I remain a bit dubious about O’Rourke’s presidential timbre.

However, I am somewhat heartened to realize that there’s precedent for what the young man might decide to do. If he hears the voice calling him to run for the Big Job, he might do well to look back on Honest Abe’s effort two-plus centuries ago. It might give him the strength to plunge ahead.

Senate GOP to Trump: Find a new AG … quickly!

It seems that the Senate Republican caucus — which heretofore in the era of Donald Trump had been a routinely spineless group — apparently has stiffened its backbone a bit.

This is good news … if the stiffening continues.

GOP senators are urging the president to find a permanent attorney general nominee in short order. They apparently are unhappy with the controversy that has erupted over the president’s choice of Matthew Whitaker to be acting AG after Jeff Sessions got fired a week ago.

Whitaker was elevated from the No. 3 post at the Justice Department, hurdling over the No. 2 man, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who’s heading special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government operatives.

There’s a problem, however. Whitaker hasn’t been approved by the Senate; what’s more, he’s been openly critical of the Mueller probe, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “fishing expedition.”

Senators seem intent on ensuring that Mueller is allowed to complete his task. They don’t place much stock in Whitaker’s promise to ensure the completion of the Russia investigation by Mueller.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, is among the leaders pushing for a quick AG nomination. He doesn’t believe Whitaker should be the acting attorney general for very long.

I happen to concur with all of that. I also am heartened by the seeming newfound courage being exhibited by a few Senate Republicans. Granted, they aren’t likely to lock arms with their Democratic “friends” and colleagues in the Senate, but they just might be moving closer to their friends across the aisle than they were before.

Matthew Whitaker shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Mueller investigation. If he had any sense of propriety, he would recuse himself from the Mueller matter … even if it angers the president, just as Sessions did when he bowed out of the Russia probe.

Mary Lou Robinson Courthouse? Yes!

My hunch is that you can take this to the bank: Congress is going to attach a revered federal judge’s name on a courthouse in Amarillo, Texas.

I want to offer my heartiest applause from afar.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, both Republicans, have introduced legislation to rename the federal courthouse building in downtown Amarillo, the Marvin Jones Federal Building and Mary Lou Robinson United States Courthouse.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. However, Judge Robinson long ago deserved this honor.

The House of Representatives passed House Resolution 5772 by a voice vote this week. It’s headed to the Senate, where Sen. Cornyn is carrying this legislation.

I am honored to have made Judge Robinson’s acquaintance. She and I served in the Rotary Club of Amarillo together, which is where I got to know her.

She remains the gold standard for judicial candidates who seek elected office in the Texas Panhandle. I know that from my job as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, a job I held for nearly 18 years. Almost to a person, whenever I would ask a candidate after whom they might model their judicial performance, they would mention Mary Lou Robinson. She set the bar high and judicial candidates for county or state district benches would declare their intention to emulate her.

As the Globe-News reported: “Judge Robinson is a legal pioneer who is universally respected and admired,” Thornberry said in an email. “She has always set high standards for herself and others, and our system of justice has benefited. Having the name of these two outstanding public servants on our federal building and courthouse will be a perpetual reminder of their high standards and outstanding contributions to our nation.”

If enacted, this would be the first federal courthouse named after a woman within a five-state area.

She served Potter County’s judicial system, as a court at law judge and as a state district judge; she gravitated to the 7th Court of Appeals. Then in 1977, she received a federal judicial appointment from President Carter.

The building that eventually will carry her name is now known as the Marvin Jones Federal Building and Courthouse.

With all due respect to the great Marvin Jones, he will have to move over to make room for a true judicial giant.

I am delighted to hear about this pending name change.

GOP drumbeat is getting louder

Well, shut my mouth and call me speechless.

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon (Texas) Republican, has weighed in with a stout statement of criticism of Donald J. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.

Here is what Thornberry said today in a statement released by his office:

“Our immigration system is in need of a major overhaul, but there is no excuse for separating children from their parents. We should begin with heightened border security and interior enforcement, not the division of families. The House is currently considering legislation to secure our borders in the most humane way possible and to address the status of DACA recipients currently in our country. We also need to reform our legal immigration system so that decisions are timely, contributing to the health and well-being of country.”

Can you believe it? Neither can I. But he said it. Welcome aboard the indignation band wagon, Rep. Thornberry.

“There is no excuse for separating children from their parents,” Thornberry said.

He is right. No excuse. None. Zero.

Yet the president of the United States keeps doubling and tripling down on this hideous policy, all the while blaming congressional Democrats for enacting a bill that they never enacted.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, has promised to introduce legislation that keeps families united. He has been joined by the state’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, another Republican lawmaker. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has declared his intention to work toward ending this policy.

Will the president listen to these individuals? Will he do what he needs to do and stop this hideous treatment of children who have been caught up in the immigration sausage grinder?

He will if he has a speck of decency in his soul. Many of us, though, wonder if he does.

Dear Mr. POTUS: Let Mueller do his job

Dear Mr. President:

I won’t take long to make this point, sir.

You are getting a snootful from your fellow Republicans, the real Republicans who serve in Congress. They’re giving you some advice you need to heed and follow.

Do not do anything to force the ouster of special counsel Robert Mueller.

I say this hoping that you have a half a brain under that hideous comb-over on top of that noggin of yours. If you do you’ll understand that the crisis any such effort would launch. And from where I sit, it likely would not end well for you.

I am presuming you’ve heard from one of the leading Senate Republicans, John Cornyn of Texas, who told Politico that “the consequences would be so overwhelming” if you force Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to kick Mueller to the curb.

Hey, I’m not so sure Rosenstein would obey the order. He’s said already — and you’ve heard that, too — that he doesn’t anticipate firing Mueller unless there’s “cause.” Mueller, Rosenstein, said, is doing a fine job as special counsel.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also has said Mueller needs to finish the job. Same with many other leading Republicans.

Furthermore, if I were you, Mr. President, I wouldn’t take Sen. Ted Cruz’s silence on this matter as an endorsement of you or your conduct. Cruz says he doesn’t comment on tweets, which is likely a reasonable position to take. He said he won’t “focus on the political circus” that is unfolding in Washington.

Whatever. Others are willing to speak out. You ought to heed them.

I don’t expect you to act on what I have to say, or what other critics of you have to say. Democrats are p***ing into the wind.

You preach fealty to Republicans, Mr. President. Now is the time to heed your own advice.

OK, Sen. Cornyn, let’s start by talking about guns

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wants to “talk about gun policy.”

The Texas Republican has accepted a challenge by a California Democrat with whom he serves in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, to start some discussion about what to do to prevent future slaughters such as the one that occurred on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla.

Now, is this the start of a move toward legislating a solution to gun violence? I am not yet holding my breath.

Seventeen people died in the carnage. High school students who survived the slaughter have risen up to issue direct threats to politicians who block efforts to legislate a remedy.

As the Texas Tribune has reported: At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, brought the issue to the fore.

“Let’s take some action,” she said. “We cannot see this continue on.”

She then mentioned two areas where compromise might be reached. The first was a “Fix NICS” bill Cornyn sponsored last fall that would hold government agencies accountable for uploading relevant information to the federal background check system.

The second was related to bump stocks, which are legal firearm enhancements that allow shooters to operate firearms as if they were automatic weapons. Several Texans said last fall that they would consider banning bump stocks after the devices were found on the guns of the man who shot dozens on the Las Vegas strip. No law has since passed.

“Nobody likes these devices. You can’t have automatic weapons on the streets,” Feinstein said. “It’s easy to fix. Why don’t we do it?”

Cornyn hasn’t been much of a friend to those who oppose the gun lobby. However, there might be the tiniest of cracks beginning to appear in the armor that has surrounded politicians who resist any effort to legislate some remedies to the type of carnage that erupted once again.

It would be a near miracle if Sen. Cornyn would help widen that crack and start to deliver some sensible legislation that doesn’t destroy the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

But, you know … stranger occurrences and alliances have taken shape atop Capitol Hill.

Tightening criminal records checks: It’s a start

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn deserves an “A” for effort in trying to crack down on a tragic flaw in the nation’s effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

He has announced a bipartisan bill that seeks to strength the federal background check of individuals seeking to buy firearms. The legislation comes in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, massacre that killed 26 people at First Baptist Church. The gunman, an Air Force veteran, slipped through the USAF’s criminal records system when the Air Force failed to report to the FBI that the gunman had been convicted of domestic assault; he was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force.

According to the Texas Tribune: The Texas Republican’s bill, known as the Fix NICS Act, tries to ensure federal and state authorities accurately report relevant information, including criminal history, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“For years, agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said in a statement.

The Tribune reports: The NICS database is maintained by the FBI and used to determine if a prospective gun buyer has a criminal record or is ineligible to purchase a firearm. The database became the focus of national attention earlier this month after a man fired an assault rifle at a small church during Sunday morning services, killing 26 people and injuring scores others.

Read the Tribune story here.

I fear this legislation might be too little, though, to have a significant impact on the huge numbers of guns already available for anyone to buy — legally or otherwise.

The bill under consideration has the support of leading senators from both parties, which suggests at least a smidgen of bipartisan outrage over the flood of firearms.

It’s a start.

How can this guy possibly serve?

Texas’ two U.S. senators, both Republicans, have turned their backs on a GOP candidate who wants to join their august body.

John Cornyn has joined Ted Cruz in saying that Roy Moore of Alabama is not fit to serve in the Senate. They say the accusations against him by women who accuse him of improper sexual advances when they were girls are deal breakers.

Senate support vanishes

Get out of the race, Roy Moore! they are saying. Moore is having none of it. He continues to stand his ground. He says the women are liars. He blames Democrats and the liberal “fake media” for making these stories up. He says he “generally” didn’t date teenage girls when he was a 30-something lawyer; that is some denial, eh?

Senate leaders are bailing left and right from Moore. They don’t want him in the Senate. One Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, now supports Moore’s Democratic opponent, Alabama lawyer and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones.

This arcs back to my fundamental question: How in the world can this clown possibly serve in the Senate?

Moore is in it for the duration, or so he says. Time will tell. The Alabama special election is still about a month away.

Maybe this individual might realize what the rest of us already know: There is no way he can serve the people back home if he manages to get elected to the U.S. Senate.