Cornyn: Trump’s tweets undermine agenda, but gains still made

Jan 02, 2018
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn met with reporters after speaking Tuesday at a swearing-in ceremony for judges at the Texas Supreme Court. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

President Donald Trump’s habit of unloading via Twitter tends to undermine his agenda, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said Tuesday, adding that the president has nonetheless had a “pretty successful” first year in office.

“I think sometimes the president undermines his own effectiveness because of his tweeting, and things like that, that projects uncertainty,” Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters in Austin. “He communicates in an unconventional way for a president, as you might have noticed, and I think that sometimes he steps on his own message.”

Even so, Cornyn pointed to the recent passage of the tax system overhaul, rolled-back regulations, rising consumer confidence, higher stock markets and the confirmation of Trump-appointed judges as victories in 2017.

“I think what has actually been done, as opposed to what has been said, has been pretty positive this last year, and I hope it continues,” he said. “People are feeling optimistic about our country in spite of the fact we’re dealing with threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea and the like, and the world continues to be a pretty scary place.”

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Cornyn’s assessment of Trump’s first year in office came during a press conference in which he highlighted a daunting to-do list awaiting Congress when it returns to work this week.

High on the list will be addressing whether to shield young immigrants from deportation.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which expires March 5, provides deportation protection to more than 700,000 immigrants who grew up in the United States. Trump has said that any action to extend the program must include action toward a wall on the Mexican border and other immigration changes.

Cornyn predicted that Congress will act, “hopefully in January but certainly before the March deadline.”

“I think the president has done the right thing to kick this back to Congress and say this your responsibility and not the executive branch’s responsibility,” Cornyn said. “It does provide us an opportunity not only to demonstrate compassion to current recipients to the deferred action order from President Obama’s administration but also to do other things which Texans want, things like border security.”

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Asked if a border wall would have to be part of any agreement, Cornyn said it will include “border security elements, including wall systems. I know different people use different words to describe what that looks like.”

He also said he hoped Trump did not extend the March deadline “because that puts the pressure on us, and I think Congress tends to respond when it’s put under pressure.”

Cornyn also said funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program was “must-pass legislation” that is at the top of the list of unfinished business for Congress, which offered a short-term reprieve by adding $3 billion to the program last month.

The senator added that he will make securing money for Hurricane Harvey damage a priority starting Wednesday, saying House-approved legislation fell short of the state’s needs.

“You start adding all of that up, in addition to funding for the Department of Defense through the end of the fiscal year in September, and we have a lot of work to do,” he said.