“After much consideration, I will reluctantly vote for this legislation. This bill contains major victories; if hurricane relief and restoring vital defense spending were the only elements of this bill, I would be supporting it energetically and enthusiastically. Unfortunately—in addition to funding those critical priorities—this bill also unnecessarily balloons the deficit.
“Since Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in August, I have worked tirelessly with Senator Cornyn, Governor Abbott, the Texas congressional delegation, and dozens of local mayors, county judges, and police and fire chiefs up and down the coast to identify and meet the needs of impacted Texans, who in many cases lost everything. Today, we follow through on our promise to give Texans the next significant package of emergency assistance we need to recover and come back stronger than ever.
“Prior to today, we had already secured more than $50 billion in emergency funding for storm victims in 2017, as well as passing the Cruz-Cornyn-Rubio legislation that provided more than $5.5 billion in targeted tax relief to those who suffered from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The additional funding provided by today’s legislation is an important next step in our state’s road to recovery, and I am grateful that we have been able to build upon and improve the bill that was sent to us by the House of Representatives so that we can continue to give the State of Texas the resources it desperately needs.
“Specifically, I’m proud that Senator Cornyn and I were able to work with our colleagues to increase overall disaster relief from $81 billion to $89 billion; to significantly increase Texas’s share of that relief; to provide vital relief to cotton farmers devastated by Harvey; and to significantly increase the funding for critical Army Corps flood management projects that will help the State mitigate against future flooding events, such as potentially beginning construction on the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay coastal barrier or building a third reservoir in the Houston area.
“Additionally, I have also fought hard for many years to fully fund our military and fulfill our constitutional duty to provide for the common defense, and I am very pleased that this legislation will do just that. The world is a dangerous place—and getting more dangerous each and every day—and we have too long allowed our military to weaken and our readiness to be undermined. This agreement turns that around, increasing military funding by $165 billion. That will make America much, much safer. It honors the commitment we owe our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen, and it enables them to far better protect our great nation.
“Meaningful hurricane relief and rebuilding our military both represent major victories for Texans, and I am grateful we were able to get them accomplished.
“Unfortunately, the Democrats and the Washington establishment tied these critical measures to legislation that busts the non-defense budget cap by over $130 billion and irresponsibly suspends the debt limit to allow unfettered spending for yet another year. This is wrong. It is cynical. And it’s a bad deal for American taxpayers.
“Disaster relief in particular should have been considered separately and independently, as I’ve advocated from the very beginning, to avoid this very situation of hurricane victims being held hostage for the sake of unrelated political battles.
“Washington logrolling sometimes forces lousy choices. This is one of those choices. I will vote yes on this bill because Texas desperately needs disaster relief and because the decade-long weakening of our military readiness has now reached crisis levels. But I do so with deep reservations.
“This bill will increase our deficits and increase our debt. That’s foolhardy. Instead of increasing non-defense discretionary spending, we should be reining in government spending. Eliminating unnecessary government programs. We should be showing the courage to finally reform long-term entitlement spending, which drives two-thirds of our spiraling debt. And we should be passing structural reform, like a federal Balanced Budget Amendment and Term Limits Amendment. And I am committed to continuing to fight to deliver on each of those promises.”