‘This is just the beginning, not the end. So we would invite their participation to help us improve this bill.’
WASHINGTON – Today at a press conference, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed the open amendment process where Senators on both sides of the aisle can offer amendments on the health care legislation following today’s vote. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found here.
“We were all glad to see our old friend John McCain… I thought he delivered a very important message and at a very timely basis because this legislation is open for amendment, not just by Republicans but by Democrats as well.”
“This is just the beginning, not the end. So we would invite their participation to help us improve this bill.”
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.
Introduces legislation to grant lawful permanent resident status for democratic freedom advocate Liu Xia
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today introduced a bipartisan bill with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) to grant lawful permanent resident status in the United States for Liu Xia, the wife of Dr. Liu Xiaobo. Additionally, this bill recognizes Dr. Liu for his lifetime fight against the Communist Party of China, serving as a brave pro-democracy dissident who worked endlessly to expose the injustices of communism in China. Together, Dr. Liu and Liu Xia have fought ceaselessly to promote democracy and freedom in China. for which we honor and respect their devotion to democracy.
“Once again, the Communist Party of China has revealed its true nature. After Liu Xiaobo, the greatest voice for democracy and freedom in China in a generation, passed away last week, Xi Jinping’s apparatchiks unceremoniously cremated Liu and ordered the unusual step of distributing his ashes at sea. By denying a final physical resting place for this Nobel laureate, Xi Jinping has confirmed what we have long suspected: even in death, the PRC fears Liu Xiaobo.
“If Xi Jinping thinks Dr. Liu’s fight for the soul of China is over, he is gravely mistaken. The fight for a liberalized China must continue, and the next step in that effort is securing the safety of his wife Liu Xia. For that reason, I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation with Sen. Leahy and Sen. Tillis that would grant Dr. Liu’s widow lawful permanent resident status in the United States, where she can live without fear of retribution from Chinese authorities. I look forward to continuing the earnest work with my colleagues and the Trump administration to secure Liu Xia’s release from China.”
In addition to introducing a bill calling for Liu Xia’s freedom, Sen. Cruz, along with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), introduced a companion resolution with Rep. Mark Meadows honoring the life and work of Liu Xiaobo. Senator Cruz delivered speeches on the Senate floor last week, as well as September, October, and November of 2015 to call attention to Dr. Liu’s plight and human rights abuses in communist China.
The full text of the bill honoring Dr. Liu Xiaobo can be viewed here.
Calls for release of unjustly detained American prisoners in Iran and addresses recertification of Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today called for the unconditional release of all U.S. citizens unjustly imprisoned in Iran, including Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was recently sentenced by the Iranian regime to 10 years in the brutal Evin prison. He also addressed the Administration’s recertification of Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“Last week we discovered Iran had sentenced an American citizen and Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison, but nevertheless the State Department moved forward to recertify that Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear deal. That should cause all of us great concern, and both Congress and the administration should be doing everything possible to secure Wang’s release and that of other American citizens unjustly detained.
“The Obama Iran Deal is wholly inadequate and paves the way for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The inspection regime is designed to facilitate cheating by requiring effectively three weeks advance notice, and by limiting the most sensitive sites to inspection solely by the Iranians. In the 1990s, the American people received numerous assurances that North Korea would abide by a very similar agreement. Kim Jong-Il happily took the billions of dollars that previous administrations sent, and have used those funds to develop nuclear weapons. I believe the Ayatollah Khamenei intends to do the exact same thing.
“There is no greater threat on the face of the earth to the United States than that of a nuclear Iran. This week’s certification was unfortunate and dangerous, and very hard to justify with the facts on the ground. There is another certification that is due in October, and another upcoming deadline for waiving sanctions. I look forward to receiving a full briefing from the administration on the abundant evidence of Iranian non-compliance, stringent measures to correct those violations, and ways to secure the rapid release of Americans unjustly held in Iran.”
Sen. Cruz is calling for several actions that Congress and the Administration should take as soon as possible to secure the release of Americans unjustly detained in Iran and address concerns related to certification of the Iran deal:
First, the House and the Senate should prioritize the release of all unjustly imprisoned U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents in the country.
Second, the administration should designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization in order to halt Iran’s illicit and destabilizing activity.
Third, the Administration should (1) predicate any future certification of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal on a verifiable determination by the Administration that Iran has in fact complied, (2) withhold any upcoming waivers of sanctions on Iran, and (3) demand that Iran release all American citizens illegally and unjustly held in its custody.
Fourth, the administration should strengthen verification capabilities and clearly outline what constitutes a material breach. Iran has twice exceeded the 130 metric-ton threshold for heavy water storage, has conducted several ballistic missile tests and continues to research advanced ballistic missiles. The U.S. and our allies must take action by reporting these destabilizing activities to the Joint Commission for determination on whether these measures are in violation.
Last week, Sen. Cruz joined his colleagues Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to decline to certify to Congress that full suspension of sanctions on Iran is vital to U.S. national security or that Iran is in compliance with the terms of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Sen. Cruz introduced companion legislation to U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Fla.) bipartisan resolution calling for the unconditional release of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents unjustly detained for political purposes by Iran. Sen. Cruz is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, which passed the U.S. Senate last month.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to a new report conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Consumer Freedom amendment proposed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act expands coverage by more than two million individuals, and reduces health insurance premiums by more than $7,000 per year.
Following lunch at the White House, Sen. Cruz discussed his efforts to reduce health insurance premiums with Fox News. The full interview may be viewed here.
“It was a good and productive meeting,” Sen. Cruz said. “I think we’re close. There’s a lot of common ground. There were discussions about areas that there are still differences, and I think we’re making progress. We came from that meeting with a renewed commitment to keep working, to keep negotiating and to get to yes. In my view, failure is not an option. For seven years Republicans have campaigned promising the voters we would repeal the disaster that is Obamacare. We’ve got to deliver on that promise, and I think we can. I think we’re making real progress.”
Sen. Cruz continued, “Just a few days ago, HHS released a study analyzing the effect of the Consumer Freedom amendment. It is a study that shows that the Consumer Freedom amendment would increase coverage, increase insurance coverage by over 2 million people, and it would decrease premiums substantially by over $7,000 a year. For people who are hurting that’s real money and that shows exactly what we’ve been saying for a long time which is the way you lower premiums is through competition, through market forces, through giving consumers the freedom to choose their own health care for them and their families.”
The Washington Examiner recently covered the report, citing “those who are considered high risk, would pay on average $380 per month in 2024, down from $845 per month projected under current law,” and “consumers who purchase plans outside of the Obamacare mandates would save even more money by 2024 and would pay $240 per month on average.”
Sen. Ted Cruz plans to unveil to Senators at a White House meeting on Wednesday an analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services showing his healthcare Consumer Freedom amendment would lower costs and raise individual enrollment, including those considered “high risk.”
The report comes as President Trump attempts to revive talks on a healthcare bill that has failed to garner the support of 50 GOP senators, in part because they fear any change in Obamacare will reduce coverage and raise premiums.
“One way or another, this amendment is going to lower premiums and make people better off,” a source close to Cruz told the Washington Examiner.
The Congressional Budget Office, which said a previous version of the Senate healthcare bill would leave 22 million fewer Americans with insurance, has yet to release an analysis of the Cruz amendment, and Republicans had said they may rely on an analysis from Trump’s HHS instead.
Cruz, R-Texas, authored an amendment that would allow insurers to sell plans that do not comply with Obamacare mandates if they offer plans that do.
The goal was to lower health insurance premiums and raise participation, but the plan has scared off moderate Republicans, who fear it will leave those with pre-existing conditions without affordable coverage. Critics, including within the insurance industry, have argued that it would disrupt the market by creating two different regulatory regimes, and driving up the cost of insurance for sicker Americans, putting coverage out of reach.
But according to the analysis, obtained by the Washington Examiner, the opposite is true.
According to HHS, those likely to sign up for Obamacare-compliant Silver plans, presumably those who are considered high risk, would pay on average $380 per month in 2024, down from $845 per month projected under current law.
Consumers who purchase plans outside of the Obamacare mandates would save even more money by 2024 and would pay $240 per month on average.
However, the HHS analysis is based on the assumption that non-Obamacare compliant plans would carry a $12,000 annual deductible.
Enrollment in the individual market would climb, according to HHS.
The HHS report says enrollment in health insurance under the individual market is expected to reach 13.9 million in 2024. Under the Consumer Freedom plan included in the Senate healthcare bill, 16.1 million would be enrolled by 2024. These numbers do not take into account Medicaid, which Obamacare expanded and the Senate healthcare bill would scale back.
Cruz last week agreed to alter the language in the amendment so that all consumers would be included in one risk pool.
Cruz originally backed a plan he authored with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that would have created two insurance pools — one for high-risk consumers and another for everyone else. But in an effort to keep moderates on board, Republican leaders insisted on keeping Obamacare’s single risk pool requirement, which lost Lee’s vote.
Cruz’s office asked HHS to analyze both the single risk pool plan and the plan with dual risk pools. Cruz believed GOP leaders would more likely use the single risk pool plan but wanted to “give conservatives the opportunity to continue to fight for an even stronger version of Consumer Freedom.” a Cruz source said.
Now Cruz wants to convince lawmakers on both ends of the party’s political spectrum that the plan saves money and helps enrollment.
“His goal is to make the case for why we need to continue to debate Consumer Freedom,” a source close to Cruz told the Washington Examiner. “Both versions. The point is, which ever version you pick is going to be a win-win.”
‘Senator Hutchison has the experience, determination, and tact required for our representative to Brussels. And there’s no one better prepared to successfully navigate and strengthen our relationships on the world stage. Kay will do it, and she’ll do it with poise and grace.’
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), President Trump’s choice to be U.S. Ambassador to the National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), at today’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and downloadable video of his remarks can be found here.
“It’s not often I darken the door of the Foreign Relations Committee, but as long as the President keeps nominating Texans I promise to come back often.”
“I had the honor of serving alongside of Kay for ten years in the Senate. And when I got here, there were some things that I figured out pretty quickly about her.”
“Number one, she is tireless; you’d be hard-pressed to find a Senator in the Chamber who worked harder than Kay Hutchison.”
“Second, she was relentless; she would not stop until she achieved her objective.”
“And most importantly, she always did what she thought was the right thing for Texas. Whether it was working with Republicans or Democrats, that was always her guiding star.”
“As I think about the type of individual best-suited to represent the U.S. on the world stage, I can think of no one better than Kay.”
“Senator Hutchison has the experience, determination, and tact required for our representative to Brussels. And there’s no one better prepared to successfully navigate and strengthen our relationships on the world stage. Kay will do it, and she’ll do it with poise and grace.”
“So I look forward to supporting her confirmation on the Senate floor.”
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.
Lt. Governor Patrick creates Senate Select Committee on Government Reform to hear Property Tax Legislation
Governor Greg Abbott calls Property Tax Reform & Relief his top priority of the Special Session
AUSTIN – Responding to overwhelming support for property tax reform and relief, Senator Bettencourt filed Senate Bill 1, which was joint authored by Senators Creighton, Hancock, and V. Taylor, for the special session of the 85th Texas Legislature. SB1 incorporates many of the proposals from SB2, the Texas Property Tax Reform & Relief Act of 2017, that was passed twice by the Senate during the regular session, but was not voted on in the House.
Today, Lt. Governor Patrick created the Senate Select Committee on Government Reform and named Senator Bettencourt as the Chairman. The committee will be hearing Senate Bill 1, as well as any other bills referred to the committee by the Lt. Governor. Committee members are Senators Bettencourt, Creighton, Hancock, Lucio, Perry, Uresti, and Van Taylor. Lt. Governor Patrick selected the same members that heard almost 50 hours of public testimony regarding property taxes in 2016 as part of last session’s property tax relief efforts.
Citing rising property tax bills as his number one priority for the special session, Governor Abbott stated, “We are hearing stories about people who are being taxed out of their homes because of rising property taxes. You don’t really own your home, it seems like, it’s the appraisers. That must stop.”
In major metropolitan areas throughout Texas, property tax bills have been growing at a rapid pace. In Harris County for example, over three years, property tax bills for the county portion of the tax bill have increased over 36% and the City of Houston portion has increased almost 25%. A similar trend can be seen in Dallas with average county tax bills up over 25% and city tax bills up over 20% in just three years. Notably, Travis County, which saw a 28% increase in the average home’s taxable value over a three year period held the county portion of average property tax bills flat by cutting the property tax rate by 12 pennies. “Taxpayers know the truth: Property tax bills are rising too quickly,” said Senator Paul Bettencourt. “Taxpayers in major metropolitan areas throughout Texas are seeing their property tax bills increase 2 1/3 times faster than their than income. This is unsustainable and must be changed. As appraised values go up across the state, Senate Bill 1 will give voters a say in bringing down their property tax bills.”
Senate Bill 1 will lower the current rollback provision for cities, counties, and special district taxing entities from 8% to 4%. It will also include an automatic election provision, to be held in November, if a taxing entity exceeds that amount, bringing those taxing entities under the same system that school districts currently operate under. Senate Bill 1 also will create a $10 million exclusion so that taxing entities that collect less than that amount will be exempt from these requirements. Based on the most recent Comptroller data, that means approximately 116 cities and 120 counties throughout Texas would be subject to the legislation.
Texans deserve a vote on the property tax reform and relief rollback provisions in Senate Bill 1,” continued Senator Bettencourt. “I fully support Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick for making property tax relief a top priority and I look forward to the Legislature passing meaningful property tax reform and relief for all Texas home and business owners during this special session.”
Washington, DC –Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today announced that the House passed his bill H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act. The bill gives states tools to meet important new upcoming ozone and other air quality standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It also protects public health while ensuring practical implementation issues are addressed in an achievable and sensible way. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 229-199. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“Our nation has worked hard to reduce ozone levels and improve air quality,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “As we continue this progress, we need to give states better tools to meet air quality goals efficiently. As we work to keep this trend moving in the right direction, my bill provides needed flexibility so that states and localities can adequately achieve new, lower standards with time for compliance. Health remains the first priority in setting standards and giving our local officials the tools they need make the Clean Air Act work. I’m proud that this common sense bill received bipartisan support in the House and I urge the Senate to act quickly as well.”
Background: Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA sets standards for criteria pollutants, including ground-level ozone or smog. EPA established updated ozone standards in 2008, but did not publish implementing regulations for the 2008 standards until March 2015. In October of 2015, EPA issued lower standards and states are now faced with the prospect of trying to implement overlapping ozone standards. *Olson is Vice Chair of the Energy Subcommittee.
Groups Supporting H.R. 806
Alabama Petroleum Council
Alliance of Wyoming Manufacturers
American Chemistry Council
American Coatings Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Forest & Paper Association
American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
American Iron and Steel Institute
American Petroleum Institute
American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)
“We Texans value our open spaces,” Rep. Olson said. “We value the land and the animals large and small we have on it. Texas is defined by that heritage, and it is a legacy I intend to leave to my children. We need to protect our endangered species, but we need to do it in a smart way.
“The Endangered Species Act was enacted to protect truly endangered species, not be used as a political weapon for extreme environmentalists. Protecting endangered species can and should be done in a common sense way. The government should have the flexibility to act quickly and intelligently on listing and delisting petitions. A triage system much like a hospital emergency room will ensure that the most endangered species get to the front of the line. I look forward to working with President Trump to provide protections for truly endangered species,” Olson concluded.
Olson testifies on H.R. 717 at the Natural Resources Hearing
Under ESA, any organization can petition that a species can be listed (or delisted) as “endangered” or “threatened” and thus eligible for special protections. The current process does not allow federal agencies to prioritize these listings by targeting the most endangered species first and instead focuses on inflexible and often unreasonable deadlines. Reforms will streamline the federal process and reduce burdens on our communities.
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today voiced his disappointment after a federal judge sided with a group of Texas inmates who sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) over summer heat conditions at the Wallace Pack Unit northwest of Houston.
Among other things, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison granted a preliminary injunction that orders the TDCJ to lower the temperatures in the Pack Unit’s housing areas where heat-sensitive inmates reside to a heat index of no more than 88 degrees or transfer them to other jails, and provide even young and healthy inmates access to unlimited periods in air-conditioned respite areas. The court refused to grant all of the relief the plaintiffs sought, such as retrofitting the Unit with a permanent air conditioning system.
“The judge’s ruling downplays the substantial precautions TDCJ already has in place to protect inmates from the summer heat,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Texas taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars to pay for expensive prison air conditioning systems, which are unnecessary and not constitutionally mandated. We’ll appeal the decision and are confident that TDCJ is already doing what is constitutionally required to adequately safeguard offenders from heat-related illnesses.”
It has been estimated it would have cost TDCJ $20 million to retrofit the Pack Unit with a permanent air conditioning system had the Court required TDCJ to provide such a remedy. To mitigate potential health problems from the heat, Pack Unit offenders are constantly provided ice water, along with fans and other ventilation, cool-down showers, unlimited rest periods in air-conditioned areas, and education concerning heat precautions. When heat conditions warrant, normal inmate activity is restricted. In addition, prison employees are trained and instructed to identify those that may have heat-related illnesses and refer them to medical staff for treatment.
‘On Thursday after two additional weeks of consultation and input from Senators, we released an improved version of a bill we call the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which represents our efforts to address the failing status quo of Obamacare.’
‘But this, by any measure, represents an improvement over the status quo. And I think there are some very useful parts of this bill that people will like if they look at it objectively and consider it fairly. But if we don’t take up the bill, well, it can’t be changed, and millions of Americans will continue to be harmed by the status quo.’
‘I believe the alternative is a disaster for our country, and we simply can’t afford to let it stand.’
WASHINGTON – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed the updates and revisions made to the Senate Republican plan to reform health care after additional input by Members. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found here.
“On Thursday after two additional weeks of consultation and input from Senators, we released an improved version of a bill we call the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which represents our efforts to address the failing status quo of Obamacare. We’ve said all along that even if Hillary Clinton were elected President, we would have to revisit Obamacare because we have seen in a number of states that insurance companies are fleeing, leaving people with few, if any, options. People in the individual and small group market are seeing their premiums skyrocket.”
“After listening to a number of Senators, we made some important updates. For example, to combat the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging the country, our new draft includes an additional $45 billion for substance abuse and recovery.”
“We’re also introducing a provision that would, for the first time, allow people to use pre-tax dollars to pay for their insurance premiums.”
“Soon we’re going to have a critical vote, one that’s been seven years in the making.”
“But this, by any measure, represents an improvement over the status quo. And I think there are some very useful parts of this bill that people will like if they look at it objectively and consider it fairly. But if we don’t take up the bill, well, it can’t be changed, and millions of Americans will continue to be harmed by the status quo.”
“Do we have enough confidence that we can make it better, or are we simply going to throw our hands up and say, well, I give up before we even start, leaving people with the failure of the status quo?”
“I believe the alternative is a disaster for our country, and we simply can’t afford to let it stand.”
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.