Nationwide News

The ‘anti-abortion bill’ must receive a 3rd reading before heading back to the Senate.

Austin, Texas – Today, the Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 8 on second reading by a vote of 96-47. The bill must pass the Texas House a third time before heading back to the Texas Senate, where the body will decide whether or not to concur with the changes made to the bill by the House.

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement in response to the vote:  “SB 8 is the latest in the Texas Legislature’s war on a woman’s right to choose.

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez

“The bill is inspired by heavily edited and widely discredited videos forged by anti-abortion activists who have faced criminal charges for their actions. SB 8 is not based on established science, nor would it do anything to advance women’s health. Instead, a federal judge recently found that such laws are mere ‘pretext for restricting abortion access.’

“Some of my conservative Republican colleagues hijacked SB 8 during today’s floor debate to use it as a vehicle for advancing their radical anti-abortion agenda. They passed a number of amendments over Democratic opposition that dramatically expanded the bill’s scope, but not before adding a ‘severability clause’ to the bill. They know that some of the bill’s provisions are unconstitutional and are willing to spend taxpayer dollars for the opportunity to chip away at women’s rights.

“The debate reached a flash point while we considered a despicable amendment by State Representative Matt Schaefer, the same representative responsible for the ‘show me your papers’ provision added to SB 4 in the Texas House. While the amendment was ultimately tabled, 65 members were willing to politicize the most personal and emotional decisions that people make in their lives.

“The Texas Legislature should leave important medical decisions to healthcare professionals and their patients. And if my colleagues are truly interested in reducing abortion, the research is clear: we must provide age-appropriate, science-based sex education and increase access to contraception in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

 

Ken Paxton

AUSTIN – Shelley Dahlberg, the associate deputy attorney for civil litigation in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, today was recognized with the Litigation and Appellate Attorney Award by the Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association. During her 13 years with the attorney general’s office, Dahlberg has represented the state of Texas in many of its most important trial and appellate matters.

 

“Shelley Dahlberg’s sound judgment, keen instincts and work ethic make her a natural leader,” Attorney General Paxton said. “She is a model of professional excellence, a master of trial and appellate skills and a mentor to hundreds of lawyers who have dedicated their talents to public service.”

 

Among her many accomplishments, Dahlberg was the lead counsel on the longest running trial in Travis County history, leading the state to a landmark victory on challenges to the school finance system. She joined the attorney general’s office in 2004, serving as a lawyer and leader in various divisions of the agency, including the General Litigation Division. In Dahlberg’s current role, she assists in overseeing all civil litigation matters handled by the attorney general’s office.

 

Over the course of her career, Dahlberg’s has written numerous briefs, argued before several appellate courts and the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and acted as lead counsel on various employment law and civil rights matters in both state and federal courts. Dahlberg graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and earned her law degree from Saint Mary’s University.

Ken Paxton

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging it to suspend, review and reconsider Obama-era EPA regulations that Texas challenged in 12 lawsuits that are still pending against the federal agency. The letter was sent Monday in response to a request for comments from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The letter, which includes 110 pages of supporting documents, states that Texas took legal action against EPA rules and regulations that are unlawful, arbitrary and capricious, unnecessary or ineffective, and impose costs exceeding benefits.

One example cited in the letter is the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which would raise electricity costs while weakening the nation’s power grid. Attorney General Paxton co-led a 24-state lawsuit to stop the rule, which is now under review by the EPA. The letter also mentions the attorney general’s lawsuit against an EPA rule on carbon and methane that would harm oil and gas production in Texas and across the nation.  

Although litigation has been suspended in many of these matters, it continues in several others.  Therefore, the letter requested that “[r]ather than have Texas and other petitioners continue to incur legal expenses and coststo challenge regulations that should be reevaluated, EPA should direct the Department of Justice to abate thesematters pending further review of each rule.”

Noting that “the previous administration was unwilling to engage with most states, and took actions or issued rules ignoring the spirit of cooperative federalism embodied in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act,” the letter from the attorney general’s office asks the EPA administrator to restore greater cooperation between the federal government and states in environmental regulation.

To view a copy of the letter, click here.

Washington, DC – Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today issued the following statement on the Justice Department appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel:

“House and Senate committees are currently investigating allegations related to Russian actions surrounding the presidential election and more recently, the decision to fire FBI Director Comey. This investigation is important and needs to continue. The Justice Department decision to appoint a special counsel to conduct their own investigation will compliment congressional efforts. I am confident these investigations will provide the answers the American public deserves. While these investigations are ongoing, we will continue to work with the president to provide conservative solutions to grow our economy and help all Americans prosper.”

Reintroduces legislation to rename plaza in front of Chinese embassy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today reintroduced a bill with U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to rename the plaza in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. as “Liu Xiaobo Plaza,” after pro-democracy dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Liu Xiaobo. Detained in 2008, Dr. Liu along with his wife Liu Xia, remain unjustly imprisoned by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Dr. Liu is most notably known for publishing “Chapter 08,” an anti-Communist manifesto calling for political freedom and human justice.

“I believe that the freedom championed by Dr. Liu is possible for all the Chinese people,” Sen Cruz said. “From Tiananmen Square to Taiwan the evidence is clear that the Chinese desire—and are capable of—democracy. Bold diplomacy works, and I urge my colleagues in both the House and the Senate, as well as the Administration to make Dr. Liu and his brave fellow dissidents’ plight central to all our dealings with the PRC.”

“I’m proud to join my friend Senator Cruz in this effort to both recognize the work of Dr. Liu Xiaobo and send a clear message regarding the United States’ position on basic human rights in the world,” Rep. Meadows said. “Dr. Liu’s life is a symbol of the power of political freedom and justice, and I firmly believe the Chinese people both desire to and are capable of moving forward toward that end.”

Sen. Cruz has spearheaded the effort to rename the plaza in Dr. Liu’s honor since 2014, and delivered speeches on the Senate floor in September, October, and November of 2015 to call attention to Dr. Liu’s plight and human rights abuses in communist China.

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

The full text of the bill can be viewed here.

Washington, DC – Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today issued the following statement on the Justice Department appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel:

“House and Senate committees are currently investigating allegations related to Russian actions surrounding the presidential election and more recently, the decision to fire FBI Director Comey. This investigation is important and needs to continue. The Justice Department decision to appoint a special counsel to conduct their own investigation will compliment congressional efforts. I am confident these investigations will provide the answers the American public deserves. While these investigations are ongoing, we will continue to work with the president to provide conservative solutions to grow our economy and help all Americans prosper.”

Veterans’ Health Care Integrity Act ensures the VA will comply with guidelines for appointment scheduling

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced legislation to improve veterans’ access to timely health care along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).  The Veterans’ Health Care Integrity Act would ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) complies with its own veteran health care appointment scheduling policies by making annual certification a statutory requirement.

Bill Nelson

“Our veterans and their families were asked to respond immediately when their nation called, yet the VA system makes them stand in line when it comes to their health needs,” Sen. Cornyn said.  “This legislation will strengthen congressional oversight of the VA and promote greater accountability at VA facilities across Texas to make sure veterans receive the quality care they deserve in a timely manner.” 

Tom Cotton

“The brave men and women who have served in our armed forces deserve the very best care our country can provide,” Sen. Nelson said. “This bill will hold the VA more accountable for the care it provides and help ensure that any veteran seeking care receives it in a timely manner.”

Orrin Hatch

“I am proud to join with Senator Cornyn on a critical piece of legislation that will benefit veterans all across Texas and our nation,” said Sen. Cruz.  “For far too long, our veterans have been victimized by a bureaucracy that prioritizes the bonuses and awards of senior executives over the needs of their patients. This bill is another key step towards enforcing accountability across the department, while taking steps to ensure that the health and welfare of the brave men and women who sacrificed so much on our behalf will be under the watchful eye of qualified leadership. Decisive action to change the landscape of VA is well past due, and with a supportive administration and the capable leadership of Secretary Shulkin, I am encouraged by the opportunities we have to implement effective, lasting reforms.” 

“No senior staff should be getting bonuses while veterans wait for months to get essential care. And Congress needs to take a stronger hand in picking the people who run the VA if we’re finally going to fix it,” said Sen. Cotton. “This legislation should cut through the bureaucracy and provide real accountability to the veterans who need it.”

“This bill is a critical step in improving accountability within the VA and promoting congressional oversight at a time when it’s needed most,” said Sen. Hatch. “We must constantly work to improve the way veterans receive appropriate and timely access to care. This proposal will help Veterans Health Administration employees get the tools they need to successfully serve our veterans.”

The Veterans’ Health Care Integrity Act would require each VA medical center director to annually certify compliance with the scheduling directive enacted in 2016 which provides explicit guidelines and timetables for appointment scheduling in the Veterans Health Administration.  Should the facility be unable to certify compliance with the directive, or any subsequent directives, the facility Director must submit to the VA Secretary explaining why to be included in the annual report submitted to the House and Senate VA Committees that list compliant and non-compliant facilities. The legislation would also prohibit the VA from waiving this certification requirement at any point in the future.

Additionally, the legislation strengthens accountability mechanisms to ensure facility directors and other senior VA officials are focused on delivering timely service to veterans by forbidding VA Medical Center Directors, Chiefs of Staff, Associate Directors, Associate Directors for Patient Care, and Deputy Chiefs of Staff from receiving awards or bonuses if their facility fail to certify compliance.  The Veterans’ Health Care Integrity Act would also make six additional senior VA positions subject to Senate confirmation.

Supported Funding as Part of Recently-Passed Omnibus Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would award the state of Texas $50,753,000 to support disaster recovery efforts:

“In the past two years, Texans have proven their resilience as communities across the state have been devastated by flooding, fire, and storms.  This much-needed relief will be a shot in the arm for our communities to aid their recovery and help Texans rebuild from these tragic events.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which passed the Senate on May 4, 2017 with Sen. Cornyn’s support, provided an additional $948 million in disaster relief, $400 million of which funds the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery assistance for disasters occurring in 2015 and 2016. This is in addition to the disaster recovery funding secured by Sen. Cornyn in 2016.

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

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today released the following statement after the Administration notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“NAFTA is vitally important to the state of Texas, with free trade adding billions of dollars to our economy annually,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We have a great opportunity to improve and modernize this landmark agreement. By updating NAFTA, we can address modern-day challenges without sacrificing economic prosperity.  I look forward to working with the President and community leaders in Texas to ensure any updates made are in the best interest of my state, and the many farmers, ranchers, and job creators whose livelihoods depend on this vital agreement.”

It is time for the United States to formally recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today joined with Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to introduce a resolution urging the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution,” Sen. Cruz said. “It is time for the United States to implement a law that Congress passed more than two decades ago, formally recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, and move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Lindsey Graham

The full text of the resolution can be found below: 

Whereas each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital;

Whereas, since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel;

Whereas the city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament, Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions;

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Whereas the city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism and is also considered a holy city by members of other religious faiths;

Whereas Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel since 1967;

Whereas, this year, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and reaffirm the congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city;

Whereas every citizen of Israel should have the right to reside anywhere in the undivided city of Jerusalem;

Whereas the President and the Secretary of State should publicly affirm as a matter of United States policy that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel;

Whereas the President should immediately implement the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45) and begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem;

Whereas United States officials should refrain from any actions that contradict United States law on this subject; and

Whereas any official document of the United States Government which lists countries and their capital cities should identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—

(1) it should be the policy of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel both de jure and de facto; and

(2) the United States Embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem.