April 29, 2016
Following the devastating storms and flooding last week, Gov. Abbott on Sunday requested a major disaster declaration from President Obama, which would authorize necessary federal assistance to save lives and protect property, public health, and safety. Immediately after the governor made this request, I sent a letter with Sen. Cornyn to the president, urging him to grant Gov. Abbott’s request for disaster assistance.
On Monday, President Obama approved Gov. Abbott’s request and declared a major disaster for Texas, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with recovery efforts.
As the restoration and rebuilding process is underway, I continue to stand ready to work with state and local officials to ensure Texas families are safe.
Keep Texas Strong,
Cruz, Cornyn Support Major Disaster Declaration for Texas Flooding
On Sunday, Sen. Cruz and Sen. Cornyn sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to grant Gov. Greg Abbott’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the recent severe weather and flooding that has affected Southeast Texas.
“We ask that you expedite the processing and approval of Governor Abbott’s request so that our affected communities and constituents, many of whom were in the midst of recovering from previously sustained severe weather events when this disaster struck, can rebuild anew and move beyond this tragedy,” the senators wrote.
Read the full release, including the text of the letter in its entirety, here.
Gov. Abbott Supports Cruz-Lee Legislation Fighting Operation Choke Point
On Tuesday, Gov. Abbott sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling on the U.S. Senate to take up and pass the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act. This bill, introduced by Sen. Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) earlier this month, pushes back against the Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice (DOJ) initiative that unconstitutionally sought to choke off access to banking services for sellers of firearms and other lawful business enterprises.
“Under President Obama’s reign, the DOJ has abandoned its longstanding tradition of staying out of politics and has instead become a partisan arm of the White House,” Sen. Cruz said upon introduction of the bill. “The Obama administration initiated Operation Choke Point to punish law-abiding small businesses that don’t align with the President’s political leanings. The DOJ should not be abusing its power by trying to bankrupt American citizens for exercising their constitutional rights.”
Read more about Sen. Cruz’s efforts to fight Operation Choke Point, including the text of the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, here. Gov. Abbott’s letter to Majority Leader McConnell is available here.
Sen. Cruz Rallies Support for Texas Voter ID Law
Last week, Sen. Cruz and the entire Texas Republican congressional delegation filed a critical amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in Veasey v. Abbott. The brief supports Texas’ Senate Bill (SB) 14, which requires Texas voters to present government-issued photo ID before voting and provides for free election ID cards.
After SB 14 was passed into law in 2011, the Obama administration, along with private plaintiffs, launched an attack on this sensible legislation, claiming in court that SB 14 violates the Voting Rights Act, among other things. The case is now scheduled to be heard by the entire 5th Circuit. The Texas congressional delegation brief pushes back specifically against the administration’s baseless Voting Rights Act arguments.
“Proper evaluation of SB 14 under the Voting Rights Act must take into account the settled benefits of voter identification laws,” the brief states. “Texas’s SB 14 is an excellent example of a voter identification law that fosters each of these benefits through evenhanded, race-neutral, and non-burdensome means.”
Read Sen. Cruz’s full release, including the amicus brief in its entirety, here.
Sen. Cruz Continues Fighting for Religious Liberty
Sen. Cruz, along with 33 members of Congress, last week defended religious liberty and the First Amendment rights of a Missouri church by filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley.
Trinity Lutheran Church runs a daycare and preschool in Columbia, Missouri. In 2013, the state of Missouri rejected Trinity Lutheran’s application for a state grant to obtain playground safety material for the preschool. In a textbook case of religious discrimination, Missouri denied the application solely because of the preschool’s affiliation with the church.
“Far from observing a ‘benevolent neutrality’ toward religion, Missouri’s denial of Trinity Lutheran’s application to participate in the scrap tire program evinces active hostility to religious institutions,” the brief states. “Despite meeting all secular criteria for the program, Trinity Lutheran was denied participation solely because it is a church. This Court has rejected similar applications of that sort of strict ‘no-aid’ policy as ‘unfaithful to our constitutionally protected tradition of religious liberty.’”
Read the full release here.
Sen. Cruz, Others Hammer FDA on Relaxed Standards for Abortion Drug
On Monday, Sen. Cruz joined 74 members of Congress in sending a bicameral letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf, expressing serious concerns about the FDA’s decision to loosen standards governing use of the abortion drug mifepristone and demanding answers regarding the recent changes.
“We are deeply disappointed to learn that you have loosened FDA standards governing use of the abortion drug mifepristone, also referred to as Mifeprex or RU-486,” the letter states. “This powerful abortion drug has been associated with serious adverse events including hemorrhaging, severe infections and even deaths of mothers who have taken it. Furthermore, the drug’s original approval process was extremely controversial.”
Read the full release here.
A Regional Update from State Operations Director Lela Pittenger
Texas has experienced a number of significant weather events in the last year. The latest disaster declaration from Gov. Abbott is the fifth declaration in 11 months for the state.
As State Operations Director, Lela Pittenger fills a variety of roles, one of which includes working with the regional directors to keep Sen. Cruz and the leadership team informed of all state emergencies and recovery efforts. As a situation develops in the state, Pittenger participates in daily or weekly conference calls with the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), FEMA, the Small Business Administration, the National Weather Service, the Red Cross, and other emergency response organizations. She consolidates information from these calls and the daily situation reports from TDEM and updates the senator on events and recovery efforts, while assisting fellow staffers in communicating the needs of Texans as each unique event evolves.
Texas Education and Civic Leaders Visit Sen. Cruz’s D.C. Office
This week, administrators from the Texas State University System and civic leaders from Denton and Nueces counties visited Sen. Cruz’s office in Washington, D.C.