WASHINGTON (KAMR/KCIT) — Senator John Cornyn (TX) spoke with Nexstar on Wednesday amid the ongoing developments regarding circumstances at the US-Mexico border, the need for a new Speaker of the House after the ousting of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, US aid to Ukraine, and the pause on military promotions due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).
The US-Mexico border, said Cornyn, is “on fire.”
“It’s uncontrolled mass migration. It’s uncontrolled drug smuggling into the United States,” criticized Cornyn, “And as I pointed out before the Biden administration, has placed 300,000 children with sponsors in the United States. And they cannot tell you where they are, whether they’re going to school, whether they’re being abused or neglected trafficked for sex or forced and involuntary labor. That’s where we are.”
This comes as the Biden administration announced waiving 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow the construction of a border wall. The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act were some of those waived in the move, which will allow for construction using funds from a 2019 congressional appropriation.
During the recent rush by lawmakers to pass a stopgap bill to fund the government and prevent a shutdown at the end of September, Cornyn was among the Senate Republicans who rallied behind McCarthy’s demand that any government funding bill include policy changes that Republicans say would secure the border. Cornyn and others were aiming to get the deal as similar to the Secure the Border Act as they could, which would require the DHS to resume border wall construction, increase the number of border patrol agents and tighten asylum standards.
On Wednesday, Cornyn further noted his belief that other policy changes could aid in fixing the problem, including not allowing people to seek asylum in the US if they arrived after traveling through a “Safe Third Country.”
Regarding the currently-vacant Speaker of the House position, Cornyn said he hoped for the situation to be resolved quickly so lawmakers can “get back to work.”
“Well – we know that the next speaker vote probably won’t be for a week, until next Wednesday, but my hope is that the house can quickly coalesce behind a new speaker, and hopefully we can get back to work,” said Cornyn, “We need to deal with our business here, whether it’s border security, funding the government without resorting to big omnibus legislation, funding bills. And we can’t do that when the house isn’t functioning. So I hope next week at this time, we’ll have a new speaker, we can get back to work.”
That comment comes after the House was once again thrown into flux with the historic decision to remove McCarthy from his seat as leader of the House Republican majority. Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC) was tagged in to stand as speaker pro tempore after eight Republicans voted to remove McCarthy, though who will act as his official replacement is still uncertain.
Until a new Speaker is decided, as noted in previous reports, lawmakers are unlikely to be able to accomplish anything else; including addressing government funding and the currently-delayed 2023 Farm Bill.
In another point of contention for lawmakers, including among Republicans themselves, Cornyn also expressed his support for continued aid from the US to Ukraine. This comes as the House overwhelmingly approved $300 million in new aid to Ukraine last Thursday.
“I think Ukraine, our willingness to help Ukraine, along with the other nations and other democracies in Europe and elsewhere, is important for a number of reasons,” said Cornyn, “One is we entered into an agreement back in I think it was 1994, called the Budapest Memorandum, in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons, the United States and other countries guaranteed their sovereignty and security… so we have a legal obligation. But more than that, I think we need to demonstrate our willingness as a democracy to stand up against this aggression by somebody like Putin.”
Cornyn expressed his worry that Ukraine’s defeat could mean Putin moves on to target other countries, including those involved in NATO.
Lastly, Cornyn commented on the continued months-long stalemate on the hold on military promotions and nominations at the hands of Tuberville. The conflict led to the Army and Marine Corps — along with the Navy — operating without Senate-confirmed heads until late September when three votes out of approximately 300 were pushed through.
Republicans and Democrats have criticized Tuberville’s hold on the promotions, enacted over the Pentagon’s policy on abortion, alongside military personnel themselves. Rep. Michael McCaul (TX) previously told reporters that the situation is “a national security problem and a national security issue.” Similarly, more military officers have spoken out in recent weeks.
“We’re on the fringe of losing a generation of champions,” Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, the head Air Combat Command, told reporters in September. Kelly said he’s talking to his junior officers, many with families, and they are “people who will take a bullet for the nation, the Constitution.” But when it comes to dragging their family through this, “there’s a red line.”
However, Cornyn commented on Wednesday that he agrees with Tuberville’s position.
“Senator Tuberville is very firm in his belief that the Department of Defense is violating a US law by helping to fund abortions, transportation in and out of the state to fund abortions not only for service members but for their dependents as well,” said Cornyn, “I agree with him, but the Department of Defense created this policy, they could eliminate it and follow the law and the problem would be solved.”