The News with Sen. Cruz - January 30, 2015
This week, I was proud to stand in support of National School Choice Week and cosponsor legislation that will expand choice for all students.
Texas is a perfect example of school choice opening the doors of opportunity to thousands of students. But with over 100,000 Texas students awaiting admittance, it’s time to open the doors even wider.
We cannot waitlist our children’s future. I will keep working to ensure that all students have the opportunity to explore their talents and pursue their dreams.
Please keep reading for an update on the Senate.
All the best,
Sen. Cruz Cosponsors School Choice Legislation
On Wednesday, Sen. Cruz addressed more than 300 students on Capitol Hill at a National School Choice Week rally.
“Just last week we celebrated Martin Luther King Day. In 1963, Dr. King stood at the Lincoln Memorial and promised justice for all of our children. School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” Sen. Cruz said. “It shouldn't matter what your race or ethnicity or zip code is, every single child deserves an opportunity to achieve the very best. That's what school choice is all about.”
Sen. Cruz continued, “Today, over one million children are on waiting lists for charter schools all over this country. We shouldn't put our future on a waiting list.”
This week, Sen. Cruz also cosponsored two bills that would increase education choices for students and parents.
The Enhancing Educational Opportunities for All Act, introduced by Sen. Lee, R-UT, and Cruz in the Senate, and by Rep. Messer, R-IN, in the House, would:
- Allow Title I funds to follow low-income students to any public or private school of their choice
- Move contribution limitations on Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, the lone tax break available to parents for K-12 expenses
- Expand "529" Savings Accounts to cover K-12 elementary and secondary education expenses, giving families yet another option to pay for K-12 educational expenses
The Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education (CHOICE) Act, introduced by Sen. Scott, R-SC in the Senate:
- Provides children with disabilities more educational options
- Delivers more choice to military families
- Expands educational options for low-income families in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Cruz Introduces Bill to Stop Political Targeting of Americans
On Tuesday, Sen. Cruz announced his intent to file two bills to protect Americans from partisan abuses and political targeting by the IRS. Both bills will be cosponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK, and Sen. David Vitter, R-LA.
“In May 2013 President Obama declared the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups ‘intolerable and inexcusable,’ yet to this date no one has been held accountable for it,” Sen. Cruz said. “The IRS has no business meddling with the First Amendment rights of Americans. Rather than further stifling free speech, the IRS and the Department of Justice should provide the American people with all the facts surrounding the IRS’s targeting of certain organizations based on their political activity.”
Sen. Cruz added, “I look forward to Ms. Lynch’s responses to these very important issues at her upcoming confirmation hearings. We should all agree the IRS should not be used as a tool for partisan warfare.”
The first measure would prohibit IRS employees from intentionally targeting individuals or groups based on their political views. The legislation would make it a crime for an IRS employee to willfully discriminate against groups based solely on the political beliefs or policy statements held, expressed, or published by that organization. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, will also cosponsor this measure.
The second measure would amend the tax code to use the bipartisan, independent Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) definitions to determine whether an organization is engaging in political activity, rather than allowing the IRS to continue making that distinction. The IRS should focus on taxation, not on determining what constitutes political activity.
Sen. Cruz introduced similar measures in February, 2014 as amendments to legislation before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the STOP Identity Theft Act. Unfortunately, Democrats unanimously opposed the amendments.
Sen. Cruz Questions AG Nominee and She Refuses to Identify Limits of Executive Power
On Wednesday, Sen. Cruz questioned Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Unfortunately, she refused to identify the limits of executive power regarding unilateral executive amnesty, the investigation of illegal targeting by the IRS, and the use of drones on American citizens.
With regards to citizens’ privacy rights, Sen. Cruz asked, “I’d like to ask you now a question I’ve asked Attorney General Holder, and that he repeatedly declined to answer… it concerns the civil liberties and privacy rights of Americans and drone policy. And my question to you is, in your legal judgment, is it constitutional for the federal government to utilize a drone strike against an American citizen on U.S. soil if that individual does not pose an imminent threat?”
After a series of exchanges in which AG nominee Lynch avoided directly addressing the question, Ms. Lynch responded, “I think with respect to the use of lethal force by any means, one would always want to look at the law enforcement issues involved there. And certainly if you could provide more context there, I could place it in the scope of either a case or an issue that I might have familiarity with.”
Sen. Cruz responded, “I’m disappointed that like Attorney General Holder you are declining to give a simple straightforward answer and, in fact, what I think is the obvious answer is no, the federal government cannot use lethal force from a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil if that individual doesn’t pose an imminent threat. I don’t view that as a difficult legal question and indeed, it demonstrates what I think has been the consistent failing of this administration’s approach to constitutional law is that it always, always, always opts in favor of government power.”
Sen. Cruz Offers Amendment to Expedite LNG Exports
On Tuesday, Sen. Cruz spoke on the Senate floor to offer an amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval bill that will expedite liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to the 160 countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) by removing unnecessary delays that have been caused by the Department of Energy’s arbitrary permit approval process.
“This amendment is important, not just for economic development, not just for jobs and growth, but also for the enormous geopolitical advantages that it will present to the United States. In the past several years, we have seen the consequences of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy, we have seen the U.S. receding from leadership in the world, and we have seen other nations step into that void and use energy as a weapon, whether it is Venezuela, Iran or Russia. Allowing expedited LNG exports strengthens our hands against those who would be enemies of America, and it strengthens the hands of our friends and allies.”
Sen. Cruz filed two other amendments to Keystone XL legislation, one to lift the crude oil export ban, and another to streamline the process for building pipelines. Regarding these measures, Sen. Cruz said, “Both of those amendments are sound policy. They are supported by the interests of Americans across this country. After long conversations with my friends and colleagues, Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Hoeven, we have agreed that we are going to have committee hearings in the coming months focusing on both of those issues, laying out the facts and the data to make clear that these are unambiguously good if you want jobs and economic growth. These are sound reforms that will bring back jobs and economic growth and opportunity.”
Sen. Cruz Cosponsors Bill to Audit the Federal Reserve
On Wednesday, Sen. Cruz cosponsored the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2015 (S. 264), to require a full audit of the U.S. central bank. The bill was reintroduced today by Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY.
“At long last, it's time for a complete audit of the Federal Reserve, so the American people can fully understand the scope and consequences of the agency's extraordinary monetary policy since 2008,” Cruz said.
He continued, “Enough is enough. The Federal Reserve needs to fully open its books so Congress and the American people can see what has been going on. This is a crucial first step to getting back to a more stable dollar and a healthy economy for the long term.”
The bill has 30 co-sponsors in the Senate. In the last Congress, the House of Representatives passed similar legislation by a bipartisan vote of 333 to 92.