OPINION: What we got done in 2021

Published 7:41 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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‘Despite the partisanship that has gripped Washington, I’ve found countless opportunities to get things done for Texas, but a great deal of work remains.’

WASHINGTON — With the start of a new year, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) authored the following op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman about what he has accomplished in Congress for Texas in 2021 and shares his outlook on what work remains for 2022:

The first year of a government completely controlled by Democrats is quickly drawing to a close. I began 2021 with this promise to Texans: to push back against Democrats’ dangerous proposals when needed and to work together wherever possible. The year brought a heavy dose of both.

Despite President Joe Biden’s pledge to be the dealmaker-in-chief, Democrats have unleashed a parade of partisan bills. At the start of last year, they went around Republicans to spend nearly $2 trillion billed as “pandemic relief,” even though less than ten percent of the funding was directly related to COVID-19 and only one percent supported vaccinations. They’ve made repeated attempts to seize states’ constitutional power to manage their own elections and skew all future elections in Democrats’ favor. And despite the fact that families are footing the bill for the highest inflation in nearly four decades, Democrats are trying to go on a nearly $5 trillion reckless tax-and-spending spree. Fortunately, they don’t have the votes to write a check that big, thanks to members of President Biden’s own party joining the unified Republican opposition.

I’ve been clear in my fierce opposition to each of these bills, but I know that Texans did not send me to the Senate to simply vote “no.” While I will continue to fight legislation that harms families, the economy, or our national security, there are plenty of issues where Republicans and Democrats can work together, and I was proud to act on those opportunities in 2021 and get critical legislation signed into law.

After years of fighting alongside advocates in Texas, including my friend Ms. Opal Lee of Fort Worth, I was proud that, we succeeded in making Juneteenth a federal holiday. For generations to come, folks across the country will celebrate the significance of the day Major General Gordon Granger’s troops arrived in Galveston and declared that all slaves are “forever free.”

Another new law strengthens the policies and procedures for reporting missing service members. The need for this legislation became clear after the tragic murders of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, Sgt. Elder Fernandes and other service members across the country. Military installations are now required to increase security and protection protocols for reporting service members missing or AWOL, and improve information sharing with local, state and federal law enforcement if a service member goes missing. This isn’t a silver bullet, but it’s a big step toward preventing similar tragedies in the future.

Bills to modernize and increase staffing at our ports of entry without spending taxpayer dollars. To ensure anyone who attacks federal officers and employees serving abroad will be brought to justice. To close a loophole abused by companies fueling the opioid epidemic. To help victims of human trafficking regain their financial independence. All of these bipartisan bills I introduced were signed into law last year.

Despite the partisanship that has gripped Washington, I’ve found countless opportunities to get things done for Texas, but a great deal of work remains.

This past year, annual border crossings hit an all-time high, and law enforcement, nongovernmental organizations, and border communities are being overwhelmed by the scale of the humanitarian crisis. The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in our supply chains that need to be addressed. Families are struggling to cover high costs at the pharmacy – even for medications that have been available for decades. I’ve introduced bipartisan bills aimed at these and countless other challenges facing our country. I hope we can make progress on those bills this year and notch even more bipartisan wins for Texas.

In 2022, I’ll keep searching for opportunities to reach across the aisle on legislation. I hope my colleagues will make an effort to do the same no matter if there’s an “R” or a “D” after their names.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.