I just wrapped up a thirty minute conference call with Senator Cornyn. The passage of the war funding measure, and it’s implications, as well as energy issues were the hot topics.
The Senator started the call with an explanation for his vote against the $165B funding package. He voted against the measure, which President Bush has threatened to veto if he found it burdened with unrelated spending, precisely because the Democrats ignored the President and fattened it so irresponsibly. Billions of dollars in unnecessary domestic spending were approved today.
The Senator also balked at the Webb-Hagel GI bill which he believes will negatively impact troop retention. Congressional Budget Office research supports that argument. The Senator seemed supportive of an increase in benefits. He just prefers a more thoughtful approach that encourages retention and provides for transfer of benefits to a spouse or child. Unfortunately, taking a rational conservative approach to these issues leaves an opening for his opponents to repeatedly assert that he “hates the troops.” I don’t think that tactic is going to fly.
The Senator then moved on to energy topics. He had some harsh words for Congress:
“If Congress wants to see who the real culprit is all it has to do is look in the mirror.”
Again, the Senator’s approach was pretty straightforward. Increased refinery capacity, use of nuclear and clean coal power sources, and responsibly leveraging America’s vast natural resources are all tactics that he supports. Adherence to policies and practices enacted decades ago, along with explosive growth in places like China, is hurting us. There are concrete steps that Congress could take now – if they weren’t so interested in grandstanding. The Senator’s advice for Congress:
“Investigations into price gouging will not produce additional oil.”
The Senator also revealed that he wasn’t thrilled with President Bush’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia:
“It was a mistake to go to Saudi Arabia and ask the to open the spigot wider.”
Again, it’s about reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources – period.
Ethanol issues were also addressed with the Senator citing rising food prices, food shortages, and their cascading effects as evidence that Congress should avoid meddling in the free market whenever possible:
“When congress intervenes in the free market and offers subsidies by picking winners and losers it can have unintended consequences.”
I’d say he was being diplomatic.
Gun rights came up as well. The Senator described himself as a hunter and “firm supporter of the second amendment.” He strongly supports the rights of Americans to own firearms and to use them in defense of their families and property if required.
If you’re a conservative blogger who would like to participate in future calls with the Senator drop me a note and I’ll pass your information on to his team.