Nationwide News

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) today introduced the Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2017, which streamlines and eases the burden on the process whereby active-duty military, reservists and veterans apply for their commercial driver’s license. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) is also an original cosponsor of the legislation.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

We should be making it easier, not harder, for members of the armed forces to be gainfully employed both while they are in the reserves and after they complete their service,” said Sen. Cornyn.  “The servicemen and women who have experience operating large military vehicles should be able to easily apply their skills and knowledge when seeking a commercial driver’s license, and this legislation allows for just that.”

“Veterans who have the training and experience to operate heavy trucks and buses under tough conditions in the military have the skills needed to drive trucks on our highways,” Sen. Warren said. “This bipartisan bill will remove legal obstacles delaying servicemembers from getting commercial drivers’ licenses. It’s a straightforward fix that will benefit veterans looking for good jobs and that will help employers looking for talented employees.”

“The brave men and women that serve in the U.S. military learn a wide-range of skills applicable to jobs once they enter the civilian workforce, but too often face unnecessary barriers that makes it harder for them to find jobs,” said Sen. Tillis. “This legislation will eliminate burdensome red tape so our active-duty military, reservists, and veterans can receive the DOT-required health examination and use the experience they gained serving our nation to count towards the credit needed to obtain a commercial driver’s license”

 Background:

 The latest surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish a unique, streamlined set of standards for veterans applying for a CDL. The standards exempt veterans from all or a portion of civilian commercial vehicle driving tests if that veteran had experience driving similar vehicles while in the armed forces or reserves. Additionally, the standards allow veterans’ formal military training to count as credit towards the commercial motor vehicles minimum requirements to obtain a license.

 However, the FAST Act did not include active-duty members of the military and reservists in their application of standards for veterans with previous training in military driving. To correct this, the Department of Transportation (USDOT) granted a two-year exemption allowing states to waive the commercial driver’s licenses knowledge test for current service members, reservists, and national guardsmen if they completed military heavy-training programs and had been regularly employed in a military position requiring the operation of heavy vehicles within the past year prior to their application.

 The Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2017 makes the USDOT’s two-year exemption permanent, providing active-duty service members and reservists the same training and testing standards granted to veterans under the FAST Act.

The Senators’ legislation also makes it easier for veterans to receive the DOT-required health examination to hold a commercial driver’s license.  The FAST Act contained a provision requiring USDOT and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to collaborate and develop a streamlined and efficient process whereby VA physicians can join the National Registry for Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME). USDOT requires that all CDL holders be examined by physicians certified by the NRCME. Currently, there is an extremely low number of physicians in the VA health system certified by the NRCME, forcing veterans to either travel exorbitant distances to see a CME or pay out of pocket for a non-VA medical professional.  The Jobs for our Heroes Act of 2017 Act allows all qualified VA medical professionals, including advanced practice nurses and physician assistants, to use the same new process afforded to VA physicians.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees

Discusses free speech on college campuses and repeal and replace of Obamacare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Mark Levin to discuss the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the assault on the First Amendment at colleges and universities across America. Sen. Cruz also shared his efforts to deliver on the promises made to the American people by repealing and replacing Obamacare to lower health insurance premiums and provide more consumer choice and freedom.

On the First Amendment, Sen. Cruz emphasized the importance of upholding free speech on college campuses.

“When you and I went to school we would have vigorous arguments, we would have protests, we would have people who were passionate on both or multiple sides of issues, but that’s what college was all about,” Sen. Cruz said. “You look at so many colleges and universities now and the faculty and the administrators are afraid of debate. They’re afraid of disagreement. There are far too many of them are hard core leftists and they use the punitive power of the university to punish anyone who disagrees with them and to silence speakers who dare disagree. It’s inconsistent not just with First Amendment and the Bill of Rights, but its inconsistent with the fundamental mission of a university which is to train young minds to think and to help young people discover what they believe.”

On healthcare reform, Sen. Cruz reaffirmed his commitment to repeal Obamacare and lower health insurance premiums.

“What the voters have said is ‘Obamacare is a disaster and we don’t want it’” Sen. Cruz said. “The working group that is meeting, grew out of a working group that initially I worked with Lamar Alexander to bring together. Mike Lee was a part of it, Tom Cotton was a part of it, Rob Portman was part of it, Cory Gardner was a part of it and it began as a collaborative process, and it’s grown in to a larger working group that has been collaborative going forward. As we’re sitting here tonight Mark, I don’t what’s in the bill. The bill is being drafted by the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff. They have heard the views of all of the members. They have heard the views of conservatives who are focused on lowering premiums, and giving more authority and flexibility to the states – honoring the tenth amendment, honoring federalism. If the draft we see this week reflects those views, I think that will be a good thing.”

Audio from the radio interview may be found here.

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Participates in hearing emphasizing the importance of upholding the First Amendment on college campuses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on The Constitution, participated in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today titled “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” The hearing emphasized the importance of upholding the First Amendment in light of the escalating censorship of speech on college campuses across the country.

Seven witnesses testified at the hearing, including Zachary R. Wood, Student, Williams College; Frederick M. Lawrence, Secretary and CEO Phi Beta Kappa Society; Isaac Smith, Student, University of Cincinnati College of Law, Graduate of Ohio University; Dr. Fanta Aw, Interim Vice President of Campus Life, American University; Professor Eugene Volokh, Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Richard Cohen, President, Southern Poverty Law Center; Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

Watch Sen. Cruz’s opening statement here and read the full text of his opening remarks below:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you for holding this very important hearing. Free speech matters. Diversity matters. Diversity of people’s backgrounds, but also diversity of thought. Diversity of ideas. Universities are meant to be a challenging environment for young people to encounter ideas they’ve never seen, they’ve never imagined, and that they might passionately disagree with. If universities become homogenizing institutions that are focused on inculcating and undoctoring, rather than challenging, we will lose what makes universities great.

“The First Amendment is not about opinions you agree with. It’s not about opinions that are right and reasonable. The First Amendment is about opinions that you passionately disagree with and the right of others to express them. It’s tragic, what is happening at so many American universities where college administrators and faculties have become complicit in functioning essentially as speech police, deciding what speech is permissible and what speech isn’t. You see violent protests the senior Senator from California referred to. In acting effectively, a heckler’s veto, where violent thugs come in and say, ‘This particular speaker I disagree what he or she has to say and therefore I will threaten physical violence if the speech is allowed to happen.’ And far too many colleges and universities quietly roll over and say, ‘Okay, with the threat of violence, we will effectively reward the violent criminals and muzzle the First Amendment.’

“I saw a recent study from the Knight Foundation that said a majority of college students believe the climate on their campus has prevented people from saying what they believe out of fear of giving offense. What an indictment of our university system. And what does it say about what you think about your own ideas? If ideas are strong, if ideas are right, you don’t need to muzzle the opposition. You should welcome the opposition. When you see college faculties and administers being complicit or active players in silencing those with opposing views, what they are saying is they are afraid. They are afraid that their ideas cannot stand the dialectic, cannot stand opposition, cannot stand facts or reasoning or anything on the other side, and it is only through force and power that their ideas can be accepted.

“I am one who agrees with John Stewart Mill – the best solution for bad ideas, for bad speech, is more speech and better ideas. Are there people with obnoxious ideas in the world? Absolutely. The Nazis are grotesque, and repulsive, and evil. And under out constitution they have a right to speak and the rest of us have a moral obligation to denounce what they say. The Ku Klux Klan are a bunch of racist, bigoted thugs, who have a right to express their views. And we have an obligation then to confront those views which are weak, poisonous, and wrong, and confront them with truth. We don’t need to use brute force to silence them because truth is far more powerful than force. This is an important hearing. I thank the witnesses for being here and I thank the chairman for hosting.”

 

 

 

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Visits site for new General Motors supplier park

 

ARLINGTON, Texas – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday joined executives from General Motors, International Automotive Components (IAC) Group, Northpoint Developments and community leaders for the announcement of a new supplier park that GM plans to open to support future vehicle production at its nearby Arlington Assembly plant. There, Sen. Cruz discussed his efforts to expand opportunity throughout the Lone Star state, among other topics, including the President Trump’s Cuba policy announcement.

 

Several media outlets covered Sen. Cruz’s visit. Selected news coverage is below:

 

WFAA: GM to bring hundreds of jobs to North Texas

“Despite the blazing heat, a small crowd gathered Friday for the groundbreaking for a new General Motors facility in Arlington. Among the crowd was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz who was immediately surrounded by a gaggle of local media before taking the stage. ‘My number one priority in the Senate is jobs, jobs, jobs, and that’s for a very simple reason: The number one priority for Texans all across our great state is jobs, jobs, jobs,’ he said. ‘And we’re here celebrating 850 new jobs.’ GM’s new supplier park will produce and assemble vehicle interiors for their lineup of SUV’s coming off the line across the road. GM expects the new facility to house 1,250 employees – including 850 new jobs coming to Arlington. According to company officials, 600 of the new jobs are replacing those sent overseas. ‘That is a major accomplishment, and we are grateful,’ said Cruz. ‘General Motors is an iconic business. General Motors is a business that helped build America. And General Motors has been an important part of the Texas economy for over 6 decades.’”

 

CBS Dallas/Fort Worth: Sen. Cruz Praises Trump On Changes To Immigration, Cuba Policy

“Sen. Cruz appeared at a news conference in Arlington Friday, where General Motors announced plans to open a supplier park to support building its full-size SUV’s at its nearby plant. The facility will house up to 1250 employees, including 850 new jobs to the city. Six hundred of the jobs will replace work previously done outside the U.S. The Senator said, ‘My number one priority is ‘jobs, jobs, jobs. The way we get jobs is tax reform, regulatory reform, is repealing Obamacare.’”

 

NBC Dallas/Fort Worth: General Motors Brings Hundreds of Jobs to Arlington

“General Motors announced it will create 850 new jobs in North Texas with the arrival of a new supplier park. The 1.2 million square-foot facility, known as the Arlington Logistics Center, will take up two warehouses to be built on the old Six Flags Mall site across the highway from the GM Assembly Plant. […] Senator Ted Cruz was on hand for the announcement Friday. He praised General Motors for bringing the park to Arlington. ‘Of those 850 new jobs, 600 of those jobs are coming back to America from overseas. That is a major accomplishment and we are grateful,’ Cruz said.”

 

KERA: GM Is Expanding In Arlington; Ted Cruz Stops By North Texas

“At the groundbreaking ceremony in Arlington today, Senator Ted Cruz weighed in on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in U.S. elections and possible Russian ties to President Trump’s campaign. Former FBI director Robert Mueller was named as special counsel to head up that investigation. Cruz said that in the past, special counsels have gone adrift when they allowed their scope of inquiry to become too broad.”

 

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Discusses the assault on the First Amendment on college campuses, among other topics on ‘Fox and Friends’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on The Constitution, appeared on ‘Fox and Friends,’ to discuss today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” Sen. Cruz also discussed his efforts to reform healthcare and lower premiums, and reduce the burden of federal regulations and simplify the tax code.

On the assault on the First Amendment on college campuses, Sen. Cruz said:

“If you look at what’s happening on universities it is heartbreaking,” Sen. Cruz said. “They have become these so called ‘protected safe spaces,’ where anything that challenges the left-wing orthodoxy is silenced, is muzzled, is shouted down. Universities should be a place where you go to get your ideas challenged, where you go to discover hard difficult ideas, and to discover what you believe. The whole point of a university – you know when I was in college I took classes from Marxists. And I was glad that I did. You want to understand the ideas on the other side, the ideas that are wrong. And yet today’s Leftist college administrators and faculties – they’re so afraid of being challenged. They can’t defend their ideas and they just want to muzzle students. It’s wrong and it’s inconsistent with the role of a university which is to train young minds.”

When asked about the effort to repeal Obamacare, Sen Cruz reiterated his efforts to deliver on the promises made to the American people, and lower premiums:

“When it comes to Obamacare I can tell you I am working day and night, every waking moment, trying to bring Republicans together to focus on, number one, delivering our promises to repeal this disastrous law,” Sen. Cruz said. “But number two, critically, the most important issue, we’ve got to lower premiums. The biggest reason people are unhappy with Obamacare, their premiums have skyrocketed. The average family’s premiums have risen over $5,000 a year. We’ve got to fix that…I think that if we focus on lowering premiums we can bring together conservatives, we can bring together moderates, we can bring together Republicans, and actually fill the mandate the American people sent us here to do.”

Sen. Cruz’s appearance may be viewed here.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who is an original cosponsor of a Senate Resolution to designate June 19, 2017 as “Juneteenth Independence Day”, released the following open letter to Texans on Juneteenth:

Dear fellow Texans:

This Juneteenth, we celebrate 152 years since long-awaited freedom finally came for so many in the State of Texas.

We celebrate the anniversary of June 19, 1865 when U.S. Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to deliver the news that would change lives and alter the course of history: the Civil War had ended and those enslaved were now free.

Celebrations rang out across Texas as the lives of men, women, and children who had known no life outside of slavery were transformed.  And celebrations today continue as we reflect on opportunities afforded to generation after generation because of the events of that day.

We owe so much to General Granger and the news he brought to Galveston on the day we now call Juneteenth.  But June 19, 1865 was just one stop on a long road toward equality.  We must strive every day to honor a telling phrase in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution; we must strive to form ‘a more perfect union.’  By treating each individual with dignity, each community with respect, we can come closer to achieving that goal.

I am happy to join you in celebrating Juneteenth, and I pledge to continue to work each and every day to ensure all Texans can live freer lives for generations to come.

May God bless you, and may He continue to bless the great state of Texas.

Sincerely,

John Cornyn

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.

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Washington, DC – Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today acted to expand veterans healthcare options by voting for H.R. 2372, the Veterans Equal Treatment Ensures Relief and Access Now (VETERAN) Act. This bill will provide eligible veterans with the choice to get financial support for a private plan instead of enrolling in healthcare by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It unanimously passed the House this afternoon.

“I’m pleased the VA has upheld its promise to provide veterans with affordable healthcare, this bill provides an important option to ensure that each individual veteran’s needs are met,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “Veterans, like all Americans, deserve affordable choices when it comes to our health, and it’s critical that our veterans have the option to choose the plan that suits them best. I’m pleased the House passed this bill to give our veterans the flexibility they deserve.”

The VETERAN Act codifies a Department of Treasury regulation that allows veterans who are eligible for, but do not elect to be covered by, certain VA health programs to qualify for premium assistance tax credits.

 

 

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WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statements after their bipartisan legislation, the PROTECT Our Children Act, passed the Senate today.  This legislation reauthorizes the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies that combat child exploitation across the country.  U.S. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were original cosponsors of the legislation.

“The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program helps thousands of law enforcement agencies nationwide with effective response strategies to support victims and help prevent future abuse,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Reauthorizing this task force program will help protect children from online exploitation, and I appreciate Sen. Blumenthal’s partnership on this important effort.”  

“This bipartisan bill gives law enforcement officials critical resources to combat child exploitation, better protect survivors, and apprehend perpetrators. Most importantly, the PROTECT Act sends a message of hope to all those affected by the horrific crime of child pornography. I’m proud to have cosponsored such a significant piece of bipartisan legislation,” Sen. Blumenthal said.

Background:

The PROTECT Our Children Act, originally passed in 2008, authorized the ICAC Task Force Program, a coordinated group of task forces representing 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies engaged in reactive and proactive investigations across the country.  The ICAC aids local and state law enforcement in the creation and implementation of effective responses to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children.  In order to develop effective response strategies to online child victimization, the ICAC offers guidance on victim support, forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, and prevention and community education.

Organizations who support the PROTECT Our Children Act include the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT), National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), National Children’s Alliance, Rights4Girls, Shared Hope, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Sergeants Benevolent Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, National Sheriffs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National District Attorneys Association, National Criminal Justice Association, and Major City Chiefs Police Association.

For a list of ICAC task forces across the United States, click here.  To read text of the legislation, click here.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.

 

 

Ken Paxton

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Texas Supreme Court, asking the court to affirm a decision by the San Antonio Court of Appeals against unlawful bag bans. Though the case involves a Laredo ordinance, Attorney General Paxton believes that similar ordinances across Texas are unlawful. Last August, the San Antonio Court of Appeals ruled that Laredo’s ban on single-use bags is unlawful because it violates a Texas statute regulating solid waste disposal.

The Texas Health and Safety Code forbids municipalities from making rules to “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.” In December 2016, Attorney General Paxton asked the Supreme Court to review the case and affirm the San Antonio Court of Appeals’ ruling so that it can apply statewide.

“Cities across Texas are failing to respect the rule of law and unlawfully passing the burden of municipal solid waste management to residents and retailers through bag bans,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Municipalities do not get to violate Texas law merely because they don’t like it. We’re asking the Texas Supreme Court to uphold the law so that the ruling can be used to invalidate similar ordinances across Texas.”

To view the amicus brief, click here.

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Urges nations resist efforts to isolate Taiwan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today issued the following statement regarding Panama’s announcement earlier this week to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan:

“I am deeply alarmed by Panama’s decision to sever its relations with Taiwan in favor of the People’s Republic of China. This move further isolates one of our closest allies in the Asia-Pacific, while giving Beijing a major diplomatic victory at a time when America’s position in one of the world’s most vital regions is under threat. There should be no room for compromise on America’s steadfast commitment to the safety and prosperity of a Taiwan free from Chinese threats and aggression. Taiwan is our tenth largest trading partner, a nation which closely cooperates with America to maintain peace and stability across the Asia-Pacific, and a bulwark of democracy, rule of law, and human rights against a government in China which observes none of those things. I urge other nations not to succumb to economic coercion by China and resist joining in efforts to isolate Taiwan. As I told President Tsai in January, Texas stands with Taiwan, and I look forward to working with our ally to strengthen relations across all areas of mutual concern and interest.”