Cruz a “hard no” on border bill, Cornyn uncommitted but skeptical

Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn gave their views before a meeting of the Junior League of Houston, along with fellow GOP Senators Bill Cassidy, Steve Daines, and Thom Tillis.

Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media
Left to right: Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), February 5, 2024

Texas Senator Ted Cruz says he's a "hard no" on the Senate's bipartisan immigration and border security bill. Senator John Cornyn is less definite, but said he is skeptical of the proposal.

Cruz gave his decision in an IBC Bank forum held at the Junior League of Houston, which also featured Cornyn, as well as Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Steve Daines of Montana, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Senator Cornyn says he's reading through the 370-page bill unveiled over the weekend. He says the main test is whether, in his view, the bill makes things better or worse.

"We're studying it," Cornyn said. “We'll vote on Wednesday. But my strong preference would be for us to say, we're going to slow this down, make sure that everybody can understand what's in it. We can have a debate, try to make it better if that's possible, or kill it if necessary."

The bill – which also provides substantial aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan – includes $20 billion in border provisions, among them a requirement that the president shut down the border if the number of migrants averages 4,000 or more a day over seven consecutive calendar days. The package would also provide a pathway to legal residency for tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who previously assisted U.S. forces.

"Part of the problem is that President Biden hasn't enforced current law," Cornyn alleged, "which leads me to be very deeply skeptical that he's going to actually enforce this new law."

Of the other three Republicans on the stage, Cassidy and Tillis both reserved judgment but sounded dubious. Daines, who chairs the Republican Senate campaign arm, was firmly opposed.

In Washington, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who worked closely with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in crafting the border package, is now advising Republican senators to vote against a procedural motion to allow the package to come up for a vote.

Former President Donald Trump openly opposes the bill, and Speaker Mike Johnson has tweeted, quote, "If this bill reaches the House, it will be dead on arrival."

Meanwhile, Cruz weighed in on an issue closer to home for Houstonians: delayed mail service. He noted that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is also suffering from delays, and he demanded answers.

"I can tell you my staff is leaning in aggressively in trying to speed it up," Cruz said. "People rely on the mail. They rely on the mail for Social Security checks. They rely on the mail for prescription drugs. They rely on the mail for all sorts of essential elements, and so we need to get to the problem and fix it."