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‘The past 20 years has unveiled an entirely new realm of trade and technology, and NAFTA should reflect that. As we modernize this vital trade agreement, negotiators should use the needs and experiences of the Lone Star State as their North Star.’

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) authored the following op-ed in the Dallas Morning News on what they would like to see in an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) based on the Texas model:                                                                  

It’s Time to Modernize NAFTA and Texas Knows How
Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz

Dallas Morning News
June 13, 2017
https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/06/13/sens-cornyn-cruz-time-modernize-nafta-texas-knows

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted 23 years ago, an economic surge in Texas ensued thanks, in part, to a significant boost in trade with our neighbor to the south. Today, more than 380,000 Texas jobs hinge on free trade with Mexico. Agreements like NAFTA have strengthened our state’s economy as a whole, too. More than a third of total goods, worth $92 billion, are exported from Texas to Mexico annually.

But as our economy has expanded, it has matured and diversified. In 1994, when NAFTA went into effect, floppy disks were the norm and streaming videos over the internet was fantasy. The past 20 years has introduced the internet into our everyday lives, which in turn has developed industries like information technology and digital trade.

It’s time NAFTA is updated to reflect the modern economy that characterizes Texas and the nation today. The Trump Administration recently announced its intent to renegotiate the agreement, and fortunately our experience means we play a unique and critical role in this process. As Congress provides input during the 90-day window before formal negotiations, we must take great care to advocate for smart policies that drive growth here at home, look out for hardworking American workers, consumers and businesses small and large, and enhance our partnerships abroad. A new NAFTA must also improve — not diminish — the trade relationship that the U.S., Mexico and Canada share.

Consider agriculture alone: Texas provides nearly half of all U.S. meat and poultry exports to Mexico. Our farmers and ranchers have tremendously expanded their businesses thanks to NAFTA. But in the decades since NAFTA’s enactment, agricultural product standards and classifications have varied among the three countries, resulting in non-tariff  barriers that make trade more costly. When we renegotiate, we should insist on science-based measures to eliminate artificial barriers and align the current hodgepodge of classifications among American, Mexican and Canadian agricultural products. That will benefit farmers, ranchers and consumers alike.

Our energy sector, another vital Texas industry, has also undergone a renaissance. Mexico’s hydrocarbon sector has opened up to foreign investment, and the U.S. has the expertise and the capital to take full advantage of this new market. While this is welcome news, the transition created regulatory barriers that are preventing the U.S. energy industry from reaching its full investment potential. In NAFTA renegotiations, we have the opportunity to reduce unnecessary regulations that will help strengthen our economy, and all of North America can move closer toward energy independence.

Industries like health care, finance and hospitality have become more digitized, fostering information sharing between our North American neighbors. Since its advent 20 years ago, the digital economy now employs almost a third of all U.S. workers. But despite this vast reach, there are no clear and enforceable rules on cross-border data flow or intellectual property rights, something a renegotiated NAFTA should address.

As Texans know firsthand, increasing trade requires more than renegotiating NAFTA. We must also recognize the critical roles our infrastructure and ports of entry play in making trade possible in the first place. Since we’ve opened up trade with Mexico, communities along the more than 1,200 miles of our southern border have benefited from cross-border commerce. Three out of the five busiest land ports of entry in America are in Texas. Improving them creates a more efficient customs and transportation process, an important step in increasing trade and encouraging economic growth throughout our state and country.

NAFTA has undoubtedly encouraged economic growth for not only our country, but our neighbors as well. There’s no need to abandon an agreement that has led to increased trade and relationships, but we would all benefit from an update. The past 20 years has unveiled an entirely new realm of trade and technology, and NAFTA should reflect that. As we modernize this vital trade agreement, negotiators should use the needs and experiences of the Lone Star State as their North Star.

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

‘All of us who work on Capitol Hill, all of our visitors who come here, and constituents from around the country are in their debt because they literally do keep us safe and secure here on Capitol Hill.’ 

‘It’s safe to say that without the Capitol Police being present… that the results of this might have been much more serious, much more tragic than they already were.’ 

WASHINGTON – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) addressed this morning’s tragic shooting at a practice for a charity baseball game and thanked the U.S. Capitol Police for their role in protecting the lives of those involved. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found here 

“All of us who work on Capitol Hill, all of our visitors who come here, and constituents from around the country are in their debt because they literally do keep us safe and secure here on Capitol Hill.”  

“It’s safe to say that without the Capitol Police being present… that the results of this might have been much more serious, much more tragic than they already were.”  

“While there is a lot we don’t know about this morning’s incident, it’s clear that this is a new environment we’re living in, and we need to do everything we can to keep our constituents safe when they visit us here on Capitol Hill, as well as all the staff and everybody involved.” 

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

Participates in roundtable with the Borderplex Alliance

EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday participated in a roundtable discussion with local community leaders and executive board members of the Borderplex Alliance in El Paso. There, he discussed his efforts to expand economic opportunity for hardworking Texans, including reducing the burden of federal regulations on businesses and the importance of trade to the Texas economy.

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

KVIA: Texas Senator Ted Cruz in El Paso

“Senator Cruz told me he has four big priorities this year: regulatory reform, tax reform, the Supreme Court, but says his biggest priority is repealing Obamacare. ‘I hear every day in Texas, from Texans all across our state, ‘I can’t afford health insurance for my family anymore,’ that is a problem caused by the federal government.’ Senator Ted Cruz says after eight years under the Obama administration it is time for change. Telling ABC 7 his priorities include expanding options and lowering premiums, adding healthcare [Obamacare] has caused millions to lose their doctors.”

KETK: Sen. Cruz on Border Wall

“Senator Ted Cruz in El Paso Friday, there to talk about trade and the economy for our state. After the roundtable he steered toward the immigration situation. Asked about the numbers of illegal crossings being down, the Senator offered a theory he says came from talking to border agents. ‘Why is that? I mean we haven’t had much time for many policies to be implemented, there hasn’t been a wall built yet, there aren’t new border patrol agents who’ve been hired yet. So what’s changed? And what they told me is they said that thing that’s changed is that the traffickers, the cartel members, now understand there’s an administration that’s willing to enforce the law, and they’re simply not coming.”

KTSM: Sen. Cruz’s EL CHAPO Act

“He was in El Paso talking to the Borderplex Alliance. Now Cruz as you know is for building a border wall, to which he says Democrats argue is too expensive. That’s why he says his new bill, El Chapo’s law [EL CHAPO Act] could foot the bill, listen. ‘All of the funds seized in criminal forfeiture from El Chapo and from other narco traffickers should be used to build the wall and for border security. And it is only a matter of justice that those who have profited smuggling narcotics, engaged in human smuggling, crossing our borders with impunity, that they’re ill-gotten gains should go to help to make our communities safer and helping finally secure the border.’”

‘As we have seen, the deal that the Obama Administration did relative to Iran’s nuclear aspirations did zero, zero, to stop Iran’s investment in terrorism around the world.’ 

‘The legislation we will pass this week introduces new sanctions and embargos on Iran.’ 

‘I’m looking forward to getting this legislation through the Senate and on to the President’s desk.’ 

WASHINGTON – Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) addressed the Iran Sanctions legislation the Senate is considering this week.  Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found here 

“Last night, the Senate voted to move forward on tough, new sanctions to hold Iran accountable for its continued support of terrorism. The unanimous vote that we had is a strong message to the world that the United States will not tolerate Iran’s complicity on terror and a clear indicator of just how important this legislation is.”

“As we have seen, the deal that the Obama Administration did relative to Iran’s nuclear aspirations did zero, zero, to stop Iran’s investment in terrorism around the world. Matter of fact, it generated quite a bit of new cash that Iran could use to pay for acts of terrorism around the world.”  

“Not only is Iran breaking the nuclear deal, but also U.N. Security Council resolutions as well. And in Syria, Iran continues to prop up and shield the butcher of Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, even after he’s brutally used chemical weapons against his own people.”

“The legislation we will pass this week introduces new sanctions and embargos on Iran. First, it imposes new restrictions on persons who transact with and support Iranian ballistic missile program, giving our President authority to impose sanctions on their weapons providers.” 

“The legislation also makes clear that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps bears responsibility for destabilizing activities and terrorism in the region by extending new sanctions to them as well. This bill also will address Iranian human rights abuses by directing the Secretary of State to submit a list of people who are guilty of human rights violations so we can take further action against them. And lastly, it reaffirms the arms embargo by allowing the President to block the property of any person or entity involved in the supply, sale, or transfer of prohibited arms and related material to or from Iran.”  

“I’m looking forward to getting this legislation through the Senate and on to the President’s desk.” 

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) met with Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), today to discuss border security, including technology and Border Patrol hiring and trade facilitation. Please see photo attached and below.

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

 

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Participates in roundtable discussion with the Borderplex Alliance

EL PASO, Texas – Today, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) participated in a roundtable discussion with community leaders and executive board members of the Borderplex Alliance in El Paso. There, he discussed the importance of trade to the Texas economy, his efforts in rolling back burdensome federal regulations, and expanding economic opportunity for hardworking Texans.

“I was delighted to meet with so many incredible hardworking men and women today who fight each and every day for economic opportunities in El Paso,” Sen. Cruz said. “My number-one priority in the Senate has always been focused on expanding economic opportunity across Texas and that is why I remain focused on free and fair trade efforts, lowering the tax burden on our families and small businesses, and helping to eliminate burdensome federal regulations so that businesses can grow and create more good-paying jobs for Texans.”

Cruz continued: “Our state economy thrives when there is free and fair trade. Our trading relationship with Mexico is a very important part of it. There are about 2.2 million jobs in the state of Texas that depend on international trade. Now, the President has said that he wants to renegotiate NAFTA. It’s been 20 years since implemented so there is certainly room for modernized improvements. And if renegotiating it results in opening up foreign markets, and allowing us to export more from Texas farmers and ranchers and small businesses, then that’s a good thing for every Texan. But it is certainly my hope that the results of the negotiations don’t result in trade barriers that make it harder for Texans to do business with Mexico and Canada, because so many jobs in our state depend on robust free trade.”

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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 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  This legislation reauthorizes the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces 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.

“Since serving as Texas Attorney General, I’ve fought to protect children against the heinous crime of online exploitation and am proud to continue building upon that work,” Sen. Cornyn said.  “It is imperative that our law enforcement have all the resources they need to protect children from internet predators, and this bill does exactly that.”  

“This bipartisan measure confronts one of the most despicable and dangerous crimes in America –child pornography – by strengthening law enforcement’s ability to protect victims and apprehend perpetrators,” Sen. Blumenthal said. “Congress should do all that it can to protect children from child predators, and this bill provides critical new means to fight this horrific crime. Passing this bill out of committee is a first essential step toward doing so.”

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.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) met today with Sandy Phan-Gillis, a Texas resident detained in China for more than two years before being released on April 28, 2017. In March 2017, Senator Cornyn sent a letter to the Chinese Ambassador seeking Mrs. Phan-Gillis’ release.  A signed copy is available here.  This followed two letters during the Obama Administration in 2015 and 2016 to then-Secretary of State John Kerry asking for State Department assistance in her case. Please see photo attached and below.

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

The special session will address a laundry list of failed conservative priorities.

Austin, Texas – Today, Governor Greg Abbott called for a special session that will begin on July 18. After Texas Medical Board sunset legislation passes the Texas Senate, the governor called on the legislature to take up a number of conservative priorities that have failed to gain traction in the Texas Legislature.

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement regarding the call for a special session:

“The Texas Legislature wasted its time in the 85th Legislative Session on Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s misplaced, extreme policy priorities, and he remains behind the steering wheel.

“The items described by Governor Abbott in today’s announcement go even further than the lieutenant governor’s wish-list. Abbott conceded to Patrick’s threat and moved further to the right, apparently hoping to establish his radical Republican credentials over those of his political rival.

“But the governor’s announcement was sadly just political theatre. He used important issues like school finance and special education reform as shabby pretext for advancing an extreme conservative agenda over substantive policy that would benefit all Texans.

“The list of items the governor laid out is largely comprised of bills that we considered in the 85th Legislative Session but did not pass, despite overwhelming Republican majorities in both the Texas House and Senate. The reason the bills died while other misguided conservative priorities advanced is simple: even my Republican colleagues recognize that they make for terrible public policy.

“The governor needs to set politics aside and put the interests of everyday Texans first.”

House District 132 – Katy & Cy-Fair

Special Legislative Session to address conservative priorities

Governor Abbott has called a special 30-day legislative session beginning July 18 to address conservative priorities which failed to pass in the just-completed regular session. A special session can only address issues that the governor specifically calls for, and Governor Abbott has added an ambitious 20 total items to the “call” for legislators to address.

The governor’s agenda for the special session includes several high-profile issues which failed to pass this year, including property tax reform with a rollback election, school finance reform, and privacy in public restrooms.

Also included in Governor Abbott’s call are three issues on which I filed bills this session:

  • The governor wants legislators to address oppressive local ordinances that infringe on the rights of residents. I plan to re-file HB 522, which would rein in homeowners associations infringement on property owners’ rights to put up a religious display on their property.
  • Heavy-handed annexation practices are included in the call as well. I plan to re-file several bills that I carried during this session which would end forced annexation of property owners who don’t want to live in a city, force cities to actually provide services to areas they annex, stem the trend of extraterritorial jurisdiction used to regulate property without providing any benefits (or the right to vote) to landowners, and provide more options for residents to influence the use of annexation.

Governor Abbott specifically asked for legislation to limit state spending to the growth in population plus inflation. I filed HB 936 this session to do just that, and I will be filing this legislation again.

  • Mail ballot fraud has recently been brought to the forefront with arrests being made in Dallas County. Luckily, Governor Abbott has legislation on his desk right now, which would make coordinated efforts to steal mail ballots or coerce voters a new offense. This bill, which I filed and attached to another bill that reached the governor’s desk, will enable prosecutors to reach the orchestrators of this fraud, not just the low-level workers who carry out the orders. I will also be filing other legislation to address illegal mail ballot assistance.

Here are some of the other items on the lengthy list of issues to be addressed:

  • Pass property tax reform with a lower threshold for a rollback election
  • Creating a commission to find a real solution to school finance reform
  • Increasing Teacher Pay by $1,000 without additional spending
  • Increase the flexibility given to school administrators on hiring and retention practices
  • Tweak the newly passed texting while driving ban to preempt all local ordinances
  • Prohibit local taxpayer dollars from funding abortion providers, eliminating mandatory insurance coverage for abortions, and strengthening reporting requirements when something goes wrong during an abortion
  • Extending the maternal mortality task force to help lower the number of deaths among new mothers
  • School choice for parents of special needs students
  • Speeding up local government permits and preventing local governments from changing the rules in the middle of a building project
  • Passing the Texas Medical Board “sunset” bill to keep the agency running, so doctors can continue to be licensed and regulated in Texas.

Please feel free to contact me with support, opposition or questions as we move toward a special legislative session.

God bless Texas!

Mike Schofield

State Representative

House District 132

Katy & Cypress