Posts tagged with "Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)"

Senators reach bipartisan deal on gun safety

June 14, 2022

It’s a small, but significant, start: Senate negotiators announced on Sunday, June 12, that they had struck a bipartisan deal on a narrow set of gun safety measures with sufficient support to move through the evenly divided chamber—a compelling step toward ending a yearslong Congressional impasse on the issue, reports The New York Times.

The agreement—put forth by 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats and endorsed by President Joe Biden and top Democrats—includes enhanced background checks to give authorities time to check the juvenile and mental health records of any prospective gun buyer under the age of 21; and a provision that would, for the first time, extend to dating partners a prohibition on domestic abusers having guns.

It also would provide funding for states to enact so-called red-flag laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to be dangerous, as well as money for mental health resources and to bolster safety and mental health services at schools.

The outline has yet to be finalized and still faces what the Times characterizes as “a perilous path in Congress,” given the deep partisan divide on gun measures and the political stakes of the issue. It falls far short of the sprawling reforms that Biden, gun control activists, and a majority of Democrats have long championed, such as a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks.

And it is nowhere near as sweeping as a package of gun measures passed almost along party lines in the House last week, which would bar the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under the age of 21, ban the sale of large-capacity magazines and enact a federal red-flag law, among other steps.

But it amounts to notable progress to begin bridging the considerable gulf between the two political parties on how to address gun violence, which has resulted in a string of failed legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, where Republican opposition has thwarted action for years.

Democrats hailed the plan, which also would toughen federal laws to stop gun trafficking and ensure that all commercial sellers are doing background checks, as an opportunity to pass the most significant gun safety legislation in decades.

“Today, we are announcing a common-sense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe and reduce the threat of violence across our country,” the 20 senators, led by Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said in a joint statement, adding, “Families are scared, and it is our duty to come together and get something done that will help restore their sense of safety and security in their communities.”

The backing of 10 Republicans suggested that the plan could scale an obstacle that no other proposal currently under discussion has been able to: drawing the 60 votes necessary to break through a GOP filibuster and survive to see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader who has played a central role in stymieing gun safety measures in recent years, praised what he called “headway” in the discussions even as he was noncommittal about whether he would ultimately support the package.

“The principles they announced today show the value of dialogue and cooperation,” Mr. McConnell said. “I continue to hope their discussions yield a bipartisan product that makes significant headway on key issues like mental health and school safety, respects the Second Amendment, earns broad support in the Senate and makes a difference for our country.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump Administration cuts off funding to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in five states

June 25, 2020

The Trump Administration is doing its level best to close—or at the very least, slow down—coronavirus testing nationwide by cutting off support to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites on June 30; and leaving operation and funding of those sites to the states—even as cases spike in several parts of the country, Politico reports.

This is not the first time that the Administration has tried to offload control of the drive-thru sites to the states—but the last effort was suspended in April when governors in the states affected objected strongly.

The 13 sites—in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas—are the last federally run sites out of 41 originally established across the country. Seven sites are in hard-hit Texas, where cases are climbing.

Taking the offensive on Thursday, June 24, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir told Roll Call that the sites were always meant to be a temporary solution as the country worked to ramp up testing capacity in traditional health care settings.

What he didn’t mention was that, with a looming election challenge, Trump has seen the pandemic as a drag on the economy that he simply wants to go away.

Indeed, in early March, the president transferred responsibility for flattening the line on the coronavirus pandemic to the states—and, specifically, to the governors. He will neither wear a mask nor recommend one; and he has been unwilling to release nearly $14B in Congressional funding for testing and tracing efforts to combat COVID-19. However, he continues to brag that his pandemic effort is the best ever executed.

Already protesters are piling on: Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, tells Politico that it’s not the right time to shift responsibility for the sites to the states—especially those near emerging hot spots in Texas

“The federally supported testing sites remain critically needed, and in some place like Houston and Harris County, TX and in other hotspots, are needed now more than ever,” Becker said in an email. “This is not the time for the federal government to walk back prior commitments on testing.”

Even Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is critical of the plan, noting,. “It’s pretty clear to me, and I think it’s clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing,” he said. “I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”

So what will be the outcome? HHS says there is no going back: Gigroir recommends that the state governors can use CARES Act funding to maintain operations at the current federally supported testing sites.

Research contact: @politico

GOP trashes Joaquin Castro for tweeting the names of top Trump donors

August 8, 2019

Now that their names are in the news, major GOP donors are not quite so confident that gun violence is not the issue. In fact, they say they have been “targeted” in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, The Washington Post reports.

The 44 names (see list)that Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted out late on Monday, August 6, have at least two things in common, the Post notes: They’re all constituents in his district, and they all donated the maximum amount to President Donald Trump’s campaign this year.

The congressman and brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro said the people liste — including retirees, business owners and other individuals whose names are public record — were “fueling a campaign of hate.”

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump—the owner of @BillMillerBarBQ, owner of the @HistoricPearl, realtor Phyllis Browning, etc.,” Castro wrote. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as invaders.”

Castro, who also serves as chairman for his brother’s presidential campaign, spent much of August 7 deflecting intense criticism from GOP lawmakers and others. They contended that Castro was “targeting” the listed donors by tweeting their names to his thousands of followers—a serious accusation in the aftermath of two mass shootings that left 31 people dead and many more wounded.

“This is grossly inappropriate, especially in the wake of recent tragic shootings,” replied Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas).This win-at-all-costs mentality, publicly targeting an opponent’s supporters, and encouraging retaliation is dangerous and not what Texans have a right to expect from their members of Congress.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took similar positions, and the latter accused Castro of “outing” his own constituents.

EVERYONE needs to tone the hateful partisan rhetoric way down,” Cruz tweeted., adding, “This is WRONG & Castro should retract it. In our constitutional Republic, the People rightly hold their representatives accountable; elected representatives should not be vilifying & doxxing their own constituents.”

To that, Castro replied, “No one was targeted or harassed in my post. You know that. All that info is routinely published. You’re trying to distract from the racism that has overtaken the GOP and the fact that President Trump spends donor money on thousands of ads about Hispanics “invading” America. “

He added, “My post was a lament-that so many people in my overwhelmingly Hispanic hometown would give money to a President who is using it to target Hispanics as ‘invaders.’ No one was doxxed-no private address or phone #s were shared.”

Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a Tuesday evening tweet that Castro was “inviting harassment” of the private citizens listed. “At worst, he’s encouraging violence,” Murtaugh wrote. “This is a target list.”

In a separate statement to The Washington Post, Murtaugh said that “this naming of private citizens and their employers is reckless and irresponsible. He is endangering the safety of people he is supposed to be representing. No one should be targeted for exercising their First Amendment rights or for their political beliefs. He should delete the tweet, apologize, and his brother’s campaign should disavow it.”

However, Castro again pushed back, referring to recent reports that the Trump campaign had paid for thousands of ads on Facebook that use the word “invasion” in reference to immigration.

“Donald Trump has put a target on the back of millions,” Castro said in one response. “How about I stop mentioning Trump’s public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate?”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Turning tail: Senate Republicans warn White House against Mexico tariffs

June 6, 2019

Et tu, GOP? Even the Senate Republican are starting to doubt the wisdom of Trump’s tariffs—especially those he means to impose against Mexico. After all, Americans like their avocados, tequila, and automobiles.

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, Republican senators sent the White House a clear and compelling message on June 4—warning that they were almost unanimously opposed to the president’s plans to establish tariffs on Mexican imports, just hours after the president said lawmakers would be “foolish” to try to stop him.

The administration’s latest move to intimidate the nation’s southern neighbor in the face of rising illegal immigration at the border will create a “tax” against Americans, the GOP claims (and Democrats agree). Trump has threatened to set 5% tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, rising to as high as 25%, until the Mexican government stems the flow of migrants, the Times said.

Republican senators emerged from a closed-door lunch at the Capitol angered by the briefing they received from a deputy White House counsel and an assistant attorney general on the legal basis for the president to impose new tariffs by declaring a national emergency at the southern border.

“I want you to take a message back” to the White House, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), told the lawyers, according to Times sources. Cruz warned that “you didn’t hear a single yes” from the Republican conference. He called the proposed tariffs a $30 billion tax increase on Texans.

“I will yield to nobody in passion and seriousness and commitment for securing the border,” Mr. Cruz later told reporters. “But there’s no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes.”

Texas would be hit the hardest by the proposed tariffs on Mexican products, followed by Michigan, California, Illinois and Ohio, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A 25% tariff would threaten $26.75 billion of Texas imports.

In fact, the Chamber notes on its home page, “Imposing tariffs on Mexico is exactly the wrong move. These tariffs will be paid by American families and businesses without doing a thing to solve the very real problems at he border.

“We’re holding a gun to our own heads,” said Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas).

If Mr. Trump were to declare an emergency to impose the tariffs, the House and the Senate could pass a resolution disapproving them. But such a resolution would almost certainly face a presidential veto, meaning that both the House and the Senate would have to muster two-thirds majorities to beat Mr. Trump.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said he warned the lawyers  during the closed-door meeting that the Senate could muster an overwhelming majority to beat back the tariffs, even if the president were to veto a resolution disapproving them. Republicans may be broadly supportive of Trump’s push to build a wall and secure the border, he said, but they oppose tying immigration policy to the imposition of tariffs on Mexico.

“The White House should be concerned about what that vote would result in, because Republicans really don’t like taxing American consumers and businesses,” Senator Johnson said.

However, the Times reported, when asked about Senate Republicans discussing ways to block the tariffs during his UK trip, President Trump responded, “I don’t think they will do that. I think if they do, it’s foolish.”

Research contact: @maggieNYT