Cornyn: Could end impasse in ‘30 minutes’

Published 10:33 am Thursday, January 17, 2019


By Ken Stickney

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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Wednesday lamented the continuing power struggle between the president and Democratic members of Congress over border security, and said if the Democratic leadership were willing to negotiate in good faith, a partial shutdown of the federal government would end “within 30 minutes.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, racheted up the continuing tension between political parties Wednesday, uninviting the president from appearing in the House Chamber on Jan. 29 for the annual address to a joint session of Congress. In a letter to the president, Pelosi cited security concerns because the Secret Service has been adversely affected by the shutdown.

She suggested the president send his address in writing, which presidents did until a century ago, or wait until the shutdown is resolved to deliver his address.

The president has asked for more than $5 billion in the budget for what he calls a “wall” along the border to stave off illegal immigration and the passage of illegal drugs and human trafficking over the border. He made the wall a major issue in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Cornyn said the “wall” might more accurately described as barriers to illegal immigration along the border, including fences, patrols, use of technology and more.

Pelosi, in turn, has called funding such a wall “immoral” and, like the president, has refused to negotiate the budget request.

In a call from Washington with Texas news reporters, Cornyn suggested Wednesday that Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, “want only one thing: to humiliate the president.”

Cornyn said the continuing impasse is “completely unnecessary.”

“We need to have Congress and the president negotiate their differences and come up with a compromise,” Cornyn said.

“I ran to hold public office to govern, not to sit idly by during a shutdown,” Cornyn said.

He also suggested that an idea floated by the president to declare an emergency at the border and use Hurricane Harvey funds to build the wall would “stretch constitutional boundaries.”

“We fought hard with Governor (Greg) Abbott and other state leaders for disaster relief,” Cornyn said, insisting that aiding Texans affected by Harvey and securing the border were separate issues.

“We need both,” he said.

Cornyn also said he would vote to confirm William Barr, the president’s pick for attorney general. He called the attorney general’s position the most difficult in the cabinet and noted Barr’s past experience as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

As a political appointee, Barr would be accountable to the president.

Unfortunately, Cornyn said, the Justice Department — including the FBI — had been politicized in recent years but that has been reversed by former Attorney Jeff Sessions. He said Barr would continue to run the Justice Department with propriety.

“Restoring the reputation of the FBI as the premier law enforcement agency in the world, that’s that goal,” he said.