Both senators from the Texas delegation sat down for a conversation with Evan Smith, CEO of Texas Tribune, at the 7th Annual Texas Tribune Festival. Smith, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn discussed climate change, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, reelections, healthcare, the Trump administration and Hurricane Harvey.
The keynote began with Cornyn and Cruz reflecting on Harvey, discussing the more than $15 billion relief bill that Trump signed Sept. 8. After discussing the cost and relief plans, Smith challenged the Republican senators, asking if the United States still has money for the wall.
After debating the different ways of paying for the wall, Smith challenged the republican ideology of climate change.
“Sen. Cornyn, are you and Sen. Cruz prepared after this hurricane to have a different conversation about climate change?” Smith asked.
Cornyn replied, clarifying his stance on the issue. He said he was open to what science proves and believes that humans impact the climate, but asked whether to have government intervene on the private sector.
Cruz took a different position, he said that hurricanes have existed since the dawn of time and there will continue to be hurricanes. He claimed democrats and leftist have used arguments like climate change to try to seize control of people’s lives.
“The alarmists don’t use the words global warming anymore, they use climate change,” Cruz said. “And the beauty of that is, climate change is the perfect pseudo-scientific label. That’s not science.”
Smith then brought up the topic of DACA, in relation to Hurricane Harvey. Smith explained that a lot of the effort to rebuild after the hurricane will be done by undocumented immigrants, according to people on the ground in those areas.
Cruz said his policy on immigration can be summed up in four words: legal, good; illegal, bad. Smith asked if Harvey changes anything, Cruz replied defending border security.
“We are a nation of immigrants and we can welcome and celebrate immigrants coming for the American dream, while at the same time believing and enforcing the rule of law,” Cruz said.
Smith asked Cornyn the same question, asking what we should do about these kids and if Harvey has changed his outlook on his immigration status.
“I think President Obama, I believe, inappropriately tried to do this on his own because he became frustrated with the slow pace of Congress,” Cornyn said. “So, the courts kicked it back, the president has now kicked it back to us, where it appropriately resides, and I think it’s an opportunity for us to address it. I welcome the chance to deal with it. We’re going to have to deal with both parts of this.”
Smith then asked the senators about healthcare. In the last week, Republicans have been attempting to pass the newest version of a repeal and replace of former President Barack Obama’s health care law. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC have a bill, Cassidy-Graham that is expected to have a vote in the next week. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, has spoken out against the piece of legislation. Smith asked how the senators from Texas feel.
Cornyn supports the bill, while Cruz said he is unsure because he doesn’t know what’s in the legislation, Cruz has since come out against the bill. After a back and forth discussion, Smith said that no one knows what’s in the bill and asked how that was fair to the people it affects.
Smith then read a tweet, “The people have a right to know what’s happening behind closed doors about secret health care negations.” Smith asked Cruz if he agreed with the tweet. Cruz replied that it depends on the context. The context of the tweet was from Cornyn’s twitter in 2010.
Smith challenged the senators asking how the procedures of healthcare have been different from the past administration to the current one. Both done behind closed doors and with the majority party’s efforts.
Lastly, Smith asked the senators about reelections. Cornyn, up for reelection in 2020, said he would be running again. Cruz is up for reelection in 2018, campaigning against Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso.
Cornyn then pledged support for Cruz’s reelection campaign. The senators then explained the opportunity the Administration and Congress had to change the lives of Americans.
Following the closing keynote of the festival, protestors gathered outside protesting healthcare and DACA.