Nationwide News

“On this day, in this body, on this budget, we are united and speaking with one voice.”

AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued this statement today following Senate passage of Committee Substitute Senate Bill (CSSB) 1:

“I am proud to announce that the Texas Senate passed CSSB 1 – the 2018-2019 budget for the State of Texas- this afternoon with a unanimous vote.  On this day, in this body, on this budget, we are united and speaking with one voice. This budget reflects Texans’ priorities as conservatives and our commitment to meet the needs of this vast and rapidly growing state despite tough fiscal challenges. CSSB 1 does not raise taxes. It also does not use the Rainy Day Fund, is well within the state’s population growth times inflation and is $500 million less in general revenue than the current budget.
“The Senate Budget maintains our commitment to border security, fully funds public education including projected enrollment growth and effectively sustains funding for higher education institutions. CSSB 1 increases spending on health care, including women’s health and mental health, and addresses the critical needs of Child and Family Protective Services.
“It is particularly important to me that this budget included funding for protective vests that can withstand high caliber rifle fire for law enforcement officers. CSSB 1 also funds new initiatives for P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) to help students pursue technology careers and adds $40 million to help Texas Ports address their infrastructure needs.
“I commend the Texas Senate and especially Chairman Jane Nelson and the Senate Finance Committee for their long hours and very hard work on this budget. They have done a great service for the people of Texas and I want to thank them for their commitment and vigilance.”

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) met today with Ambassador Geronimo Gutierrez, the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, to discuss the important relationship between Texas and Mexico.

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

by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas

Texas is the proud home of more than 170,000 servicemembers and roughly 1.5 million veterans.  Within our state’s borders lies Military City, USA – also known as San Antonio – and many military installations, large and small.

But among all our servicemembers and veterans, Texas’ most decorated unit remains the group of 532 brave men we now call the “Texas Lost Battalion,” who were captured by the Japanese 75 years ago, in March 1942.

The story starts earlier, in the fall of 1940, when the 36th Division of the Texas National Guard arrived just outside of Brownswood at one of Texas’ largest training centers, Camp Bowie.  World War II had engulfed both Europe and Asia, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had issued orders in late August to mobilize the National Guard.

After a brief period of training, the unit traveled to a port in San Francisco, embarked on The Republic as the 2nd Battalion, 131stField Artillery, 36th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, and set sail for the Pacific Theater.

Two weeks into the journey, on December 7, 1941, The Republic and its convoy were just west of Hawaii when troops heard the news of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.  The United States officially joined the war, and The Republic shifted course from its original destination, the Philippines, to defend the Dutch East Indies.

The 36th Infantry Division arrived on the island of Java on January 11, 1942, the very same day the Japanese began their invasion of the Dutch Islands.  The 36th Infantry Division supported the 19th Heavy Bombardment Group as they fought off the Japanese.  But when that Group left Java for Australia, the 36th was left behind in the increasingly grim Java.

It was then, after most other Allied units had retreated to Australia, that the Japanese completed the demise of the Dutch Islands and took the remaining units prisoner.  The Japanese neglected to file the identities of the captured units, so the 36th Infantry Division fell off the United States’ radar.  The U.S. Military and the soldiers’ families had lost track of the 36th Infantry Division, and so they earned the fabled name “Texas Lost Battalion.”

For the next three years, the Texas Lost Battalion was forced to endure brutal conditions in Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) camps.  The Texas soldiers were dragged through the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, Burma, and Thailand, working back-breaking jobs in brutal conditions as their fellow POWs perished around them, including the Railroad of Death connecting Burma and Bangkok and the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai.

The Texas Lost Battalion was – figuratively – found on September 16, 1944.  On that day, American submarines sank two Japanese freighters transporting British and Australian POWs in the Pacific, and the surviving POWs told stories of working alongside Texas soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division.

On August 15, 1945, the soldiers of the Texas Lost Battalion were finally liberated – some 42 months after their capture.  Unfortunately, not all of the 532 brave troops that embarked on The Republic in 1941 returned home after the war.  Each of them has a story to tell, and the legacy of their heroic service lives on.

Their story is one of unwavering courage, unspeakable sacrifice, and unbreakable dedication.  It’s a story we must continue to share, generation to generation.  That’s why earlier this month, I submitted their story to be memorialized in the Congressional Record, so Texans, and all Americans, can reflect upon the storied Texas Lost Battalion and always remember that freedom isn’t free.

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today issued the following statement in response to the attacks in London and Antwerp.

“Yesterday’s terror attack in London – committed by a radical Islamic terrorist and claimed by ISIS – was an act of barbarism. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the brave law enforcement members who brought the terrorist down – particularly with the family of Kurt Cochran, a fellow American from Utah who was killed, and his wife, Melissa, who was seriously injured. The British people and the British government should know that America stands shoulder to shoulder with them.

Just today, a man in the Belgian port city of Antwerp was arrested after driving his car at high speed through a busy pedestrian shopping street. Fortunately, there are no reports of injuries, despite police reportedly having found rifles, knives and a gas can in his car. Had local authorities not acted swiftly and decisively to stop the suspected attacker, countless innocent people could have been killed or injured.

It is past time for us to get serious, smart, and decisive in dealing with the global threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Fortunately, we no longer have an administration in the White House that refuses to call these terrorists by their name and make clear that, rather than acting in the name of an amorphous violent extremism, they are setting off bombs, stabbing people with knives, shooting people in cafes and concert halls and running people down on promenades and shopping streets in the name of their Islamist ideology.

This is why I reintroduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act last month, so that American citizens who join foreign terrorist organizations like ISIS and commit acts of terror against the United States forfeit their citizenship. I have also supported the Trump administration’s executive order to suspend immigration from at risk countries until we have an improved vetting system in place to check for Islamist terrorists attempting to enter the United States. We know that ISIS is using migrant routes to smuggle its fighters into Europe and the United States. What is equally disturbing from the murderous attack in London is that the terrorist appears to have been a homegrown jihadist who was known to authorities. Beyond executing a strategy to utterly destroy ISIS and closing pathways for Islamist terrorists to enter our free societies, we need a comprehensive, bold and effective strategy to address radicalism here at home and I am committed to working with my colleagues and the administration to continue making this a priority.”

AUSTIN, Texas — A bill in the Texas House of Representatives (HB 1818) to reauthorize the Railroad Commission for another 12 years does not address most of the critical reforms that the agency urgently needs, Public Citizen said today. The Legislature is scheduled to vote on the legislation next Tuesday.

Many provisions could substantially advance the protection of public health and the environment — key to the Railroad Commission’s core mission. But they aren’t in the legislation.

From previous sunset reviews and Public Citizen’s 2016 “Oil and Gas Regulation Best Practices Study,” it is clear that five amendments are key to improving the commission’s most important functions.

These five critical reforms include: penalties large enough to stop pollution; limits on political contributions at the time that decisions are being made; tougher laws to ensure oil wells are plugged; data showing who the bad actors are on the commission’s website; and changing the commission’s name to reflect the fact that this agency regulates oil and gas. More specifically:

  • Campaign Contributions/Conflicts of Interest – At the Texas Railroad Commission, political spending is out of control. The amount of money given by donors connected to oil and natural gas has increased tenfold over the past 10 years.

“There appears to be no state agency in the nation with closer financial ties to the industry it’s supposed to regulate than the Texas Railroad Commission,” said Carol Birch, legislative counsel with Public Citizen’s Texas office. “The potential for conflicts of interest is enormous.”

This potential for conflicts of interest in policymaking functions and contested case hearings needs to be eliminated, Public Citizen maintains. Significant limits should be put on the source, timing and amount of campaign contributions to commissioners.

  • Bonding Increases – Bonding requirements are an important piece of the system supposedly designed to ensure that operators plug wells at the end of their productive lives, and that funds are available for the state to plug wells that operators fail to plug. The current bonding requirements were established more than 25 years ago, and since then, plugging costs have increased 106 percent. Unplugged wells can poison the state’s aquifers with heavy metals and radioactive materials. Insufficient bonding requirements also divert other commission funding sources to pay for well plugging operations — money that could be spent on inspection, enforcement, permitting staff, information technology upgrades or other regulatory functions. Texas must increase its bonding requirements to reflect current costs, or the black hole of unplugged wells will continue to grow.
  • Penalties and Enforcement – The state must increase maximum penalties and establish a penalty policy that ensures compliance, deters repeat violations and takes into account the economic gain from noncompliance.

The current fines – established three decades ago – do not deter companies from breaking the law. Raising the maximum penalty from $10,000 to $25,000 per day would help dissuade repeat offenders, Public Citizen maintains. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality already has a maximum fine of $25,000 per day.

“The Texas Railroad Commission now has repeat violators who treat fines like a minor traffic ticket. We need a higher fine structure to make those violators comply with the law,” said Rita Beving, North Texas organizer for Public Citizen.

  • Searchable Data on Website – There is a critical need to increase transparency by requiring the Railroad Commission to create a searchable database with information relating to inspections, complaints and enforcement actions – including fines and penalties – and make it available on its website.

“There is an astounding lack of transparency at the Railroad Commission compared to other states as well as other Texas state agencies,” Birch said.

  • Name Change for Transparency – The commission needs a name that describes what the agency actually does. Oddly, one thing that does not fall under the Railroad Commission’s jurisdiction is railroads. Every major daily newspaper in the state has said it’s time for a name change that reflects the commission’s real functions.

“There’s no legitimate reason for using a 19th century, misleading name,” said Lon Burnam, legislative specialist with Public Citizen.

“The best place to find qualified workers is right here” 

EL PASO, TX – Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos today delivered the keynote address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes Transition Summit at Fort Bliss. The Hiring Our Heroes Transition Summit is a two-day event featuring panel discussions, recruiter training, and networking events for employers, military leaders, and job seekers. Secretary Pablos expressed his deep gratitude to the veterans for their service and highlighted Texas’ ongoing commitment to providing ample opportunities for veterans transitioning into the workforce.

“The relationship between Fort Bliss and El Paso is extremely unique, and the relationship our community leaders have built to bring more veterans into the workforce is unique as well,” Secretary Pablos said. “Companies want to know that a community like El Paso has a talent pipeline that can be relied upon in the present, but also in the future. The best place to find qualified workers is right here – you are already qualified, all we need to do is match your skill set with the right employers. My personal goal is that you all stay right here in the State of Texas.”

(Office of the Secretary of State, 3/22/2017)
As of January 1, 2016, new veteran-owned business entities in the State of Texas can qualify for exemptions from certain filing fees through the Secretary of State’s Business Filings Division and the Texas franchise tax for the first five years of operation. Since that time, more than 430 new veteran-owned business entities have been formed in the State of Texas.

To learn more about benefits for veteran-owned businesses in Texas, click here.

‘The great thing about somebody like Judge Gorsuch is the people that admire him also includes the people who differ from him politically but have seen him in action, people like the former solicitor general under President Obama.’

‘[Leader Schumer] thought Judge Gorsuch was good enough for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. I would challenge him to identify a reason why he’s not well-suited for the United States Supreme Court, unless it’s based on some political calculation.’

‘I hope our colleagues across the aisle, after this nominee’s voted out of the Judiciary Committee, will allow us to have an up-or-down vote on this nomination.’

WASHINGTON – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) called on his colleagues to allow an up-or-down vote on President Trump’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch.  Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found here.

“My view is, if you can’t vote for somebody like Judge Gorsuch, there is probably nobody that would be nominated by this President that you would vote to confirm.”

“We know of his intellect. We know of his sterling qualifications and his extensive experience. I particularly appreciated his testimony today about access to justice and his concern that people of modest means, low-income, the so-called little guy that our friends across the aisle keep talking about, that the little guy in America is essentially denied access to our courts because it costs so much, and it takes too long.”

“The great thing about somebody like Judge Gorsuch is the people that admire him also includes the people who differ from him politically but have seen him in action, people like the former solicitor general under President Obama.”

“That’s why he was previously confirmed by this United States Senate ten years ago when he was nominated to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He was confirmed by voice vote.”

“[Leader Schumer] thought Judge Gorsuch was good enough for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. I would challenge him to identify a reason why he’s not well-suited for the United States Supreme Court, unless it’s based on some political calculation.”

“Judge Gorsuch is no radical. He follows the law wherever it leads.” 

“He’s noted that about 97 percent of the thousands of cases he has decided have been unanimously.”  

“And he sided with the majority 99 percent of the time. This is nobody out of the mainstream.”

“I hope our colleagues across the aisle, after this nominee’s voted out of the Judiciary Committee, will allow us to have an up-or-down vote on this nomination.” 

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

 

Language from Cornyn’s MANIFEST Act Now Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after President Trump signed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Transition Authorization Act of 2017 into law, including language from Sen. Cornyn’s MANIFEST Act to require NASA to develop plans for the future of U.S. human space exploration and set the goal of landing an astronaut on Mars:

“The President’s signature on this legislation reinforces our commitment to human space exploration and American innovation,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Texas has and will continue to be at the forefront of human space exploration, and I want to thank Senator Cruz and the members of the Texas congressional delegation who fought for this legislation.”

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, now law, includes the following provisions consistent with Sen. Cornyn’s MANIFEST for Human Spaceflight Act:

  • The legislation would require NASA to regularly provide Congress a human exploration strategy outlining goals and destinations for future manned space missions.
  • To ensure the agency considers independent views, NASA is directed to partner with the National Academies to provide input and further recommendations that would be included in the final strategy.
  • Directs NASA to specifically designate a human presence on the surface of Mars and  beyond low-earth orbit as a long-term goal, a position supported by the Spaceflight Committee’s report as well as the broader space exploration community.
  • Reaffirms Congressional support for the Space Launch System and the Orion program, and directs any long-term strategy to include opportunities for collaboration with industry and academia.

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

 

 

 Participates in Presidential bill signing of bipartisan Cruz-Nelson NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today joined President Donald Trump and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) at a White House ceremony where the president signed the bipartisan Cruz-Nelson NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 into law.

Video of the bill signing ceremony may be viewed here.

“I am grateful for the President’s action today which will restore stability and certainty to NASA and the future of the U.S. space program,” Sen. Cruz said. “Space exploration has fostered extraordinary economic growth and job creation for the State of Texas and the entire nation. Drafted and passed in a bipartisan manner, this legislation enables commercial space ventures to flourish and ensures NASA has the clarity of purpose and confidence it needs to continue to grow and improve upon what it does best: lead the world in space exploration. By charting an ambitious course for the manned exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond, this legislation champions America’s leadership in space, and ensures the Johnson Space Center remains the crown jewel of NASA’s human spaceflight missions. I am grateful for my colleagues’ dedication to the future of our nation’s leadership in space, and commend the President for signing this legislation into law.”

“For almost six decades NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on Earth,” President Trump said. “I am delighted to sign this bill – it’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed – reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology. With this legislation we support NASA’s scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discovery.”

“It took a lot of work to get this through Congress,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “I’m pleased we were able to get a bipartisan bill to the president that supports sending humans to Mars, expands the commercial space industry and calls for a robust NASA. Now we must roll up our sleeves to find the funding needed to carry out these lofty goals.”

As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, Sen. Cruz previously worked with his colleagues to secure the passage of the 2015 Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, legislation which received bipartisan support and praise from various space industry leaders. This legislation extends the International Space Station until 2024 and ensures stability for the future development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector in Texas and the entire nation.

 

 

 

 

Sen. Cruz: Just a Decade Ago, Not a Single Democrat Spoke a Word of Opposition to Judge Gorsuch When Confirmed as Federal Judge

Cruz Gives Introductory Remarks to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today spoke in support of the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. In the first day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Sen. Cruz is a member, the senator praised Judge Gorsuch’s experience and commitment to the rule of law. He also noted that in Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings to be a federal judge ten years ago, not one Democrat spoke against him, indicating the bipartisan respect and support of his record and experience.

Sen. Cruz’s remarks may be viewed here.

Below are Sen. Cruz’s remarks as prepared:

February the 13th of last year was a devastating day for those of us who embrace the Constitution and the Rule of Law. On that day, we lost Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Justice Scalia was one of the greatest justices to ever sit on the Court. He was a trailblazing advocate for the original meaning of the Constitution, and a shining example of judicial humility. His death left an enormous hole not only in our hearts, but in the Rule of Law. And it left enormous shoes to fill.

Today, there is sharp disagreement about the very nature of the Supreme Court. Some people view the Court as a hyper-powerful political branch. When they grow frustrated with the legislative process and the will of the people, they run to the courts to see their preferred policies enacted.

For conservatives, we know the opposite to be true. We read the Constitution and see that it imbues the federal judiciary with a much more modest role than the left embraces. Judges are not supposed to make law. They are supposed to faithfully apply it.

Justice Scalia was a champion of this modest view of the judicial role. But had his vacant seat been filled by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, Justice Scalia’s legacy would have been in grave danger.

If they had filled this seat, we would have seen a Supreme Court where the will of the people would have been repeatedly cast aside by a new Supreme Court majority. We would have seen a Supreme Court majority that viewed itself as philosopher kings who had the power to decide for the rest of us what policies should govern our nation and control every facet of our lives.

That would been a profound and troubling shift in the direction of the Supreme Court and in our nation’s future. That is why, after Justice Scalia’s untimely death, I was proud to join my colleagues in drawing a line in the sand on behalf of the American people.

We chose to exercise our explicit constitutional authority found in Article II, Section II of the Constitution. We advised President Obama that we would not consent to a Supreme Court nominee until the people, in the presidential election, were able to choose between an originalist vision of the Constitution represented by Justice Scalia, or a progressive one represented by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

During the campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised to nominate, from a specific list of 21 judges, a principled constitutionalist to fill the void left by Justice Scalia.

Issuing such a list was a move without precedent in our country’s presidential history, and it created the most transparent process for selecting a Supreme Court justice that our nation has ever seen.

The voters were able to see who President Trump would nominate and were able to decide for themselves whether that is the future they wanted for the Court.

And in November, the People spoke. In what essentially was a referendum on the kind of justice that should replace Justice Scalia, the People chose originalism, textualism, and the rule of law.

Judge Gorsuch is no ordinary nominee. Because of this unique and transparent process—unprecedented in this nation’s history—his nomination carries with it a super-legitimacy that is also unprecedented in this nation’s history.

All of us have been able to be involved in this process from day one. For my part, I have pored through Judge Gorsuch’s opinions to get a feel for the man, his writing style, and his judicial philosophy.

Like the renowned justice he is set to replace, Judge Gorsuch is brilliant and immensely talented. His record demonstrates a faithful commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. He has refused to legislate his own policy preferences from the bench, while recognizing the pivotal role the judiciary plays in defending the fundamental liberties recognized in the Bill of Rights.

On this score, I am particularly comforted by Judge Gorsuch’s own words. On the night he was nominated, Judge Gorsuch channeled Justice Scalia when he explained that “a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.”

These words should give comfort to the American people—and to my Democratic colleagues. With Neil Gorsuch, we have a man who respects this institution and respects the work that we do here on behalf of our constituents.

And my Democratic colleagues know it. Let’s not forget that just a decade ago, Judge Gorsuch was confirmed in the Senate by a voice vote only two months after he was nominated to be a judge. He was even reported out of this committee by a voice vote. Not a single Democrat spoke even a word of opposition to him.

Not our current minority leader Chuck Schumer. Not Harry Reid or Ted Kennedy or John Kerry. Not Senators Feinstein, Leahy, and Durbin, who still sit on this very committee. Not even Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Joe Biden spoke out against Neil Gorsuch.

The question I would ask my Democratic colleagues is this: What has changed? Ten years ago, he was so unobjectionable that he did not merit even a whisper of disapproval. In the decade since, he has had an objectively exemplary record. If anything, he has shown himself to be even more worthy of the bipartisan support he received back then.

Unfortunately, that is probably not something that my Democratic colleagues can do today in light of the current political climate. Many probably believe they have no choice but to manufacture attacks against Neil Gorsuch, whether they want to or not, just to preserve their own political future.

We are seeing these baseless attacks already. Most recently, some Democrats have been slandering Judge Gorsuch as being “against the little guy” because he has dared to rule based on the law, and not on the identity of the persons appearing before him.

This is beyond absurd. For one thing, these are the same people who have spent the past eight years attacking the Little Sisters of the Poor for having the audacity to be live according to their deeply held religious beliefs. You really need to take a long look in the mirror if once day you find yourself attacking a group called the Little Sisters of the Poor. So forgive me if I don’t believe these people actually care about the “little guy.”

But more important than that, a judge is not supposed to care about the big guy or the little guy. A judge swears an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States, not to give favor to particular litigants.

Unfortunately, I fear that we will see even more baseless attacks this week. But I hope I am wrong. I hope that my Democratic colleagues will give Judge Gorsuch a fair chance. I hope that those who were willing to confirm him ten years ago will treat Judge Gorsuch with the same respect that they showed him then.

Because make no mistake: Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed.

So, let me thank you for being here, Judge Gorsuch. I look forward to asking you questions, I look forward to voting for you, and I look forward to seeing you on the Supreme Court of the United States.