Texas Senator John Cornyn joined me on today’s show, and we discussed President Obama’s recent statements on race as well as his use of the “n” word:
HH: Joined now by the GOP Senate Whip, number two of the Republicans in the United States Senate, Senator John Cornyn. Welcome back, Senator Cornyn, it’s always a great honor and pleasure to talk to you, great to have you.
JC: Great to be with you, Hugh, thank you for having me.
HH: I want to begin by referencing what the President said earlier today that racism is in the DNA of Americans. How do you react to that?
JC: You know, I thought with the election of this president being the first African-American president of the United States, that he could use that to great effect to heal the racial divide in America. I don’t think the President’s announcing any news. Obviously, our history is very well known, and America’s original sin was treating African-Americans and others as less than human. But we have come a long, long way, and he’s perhaps Exhibit A of that fact. So I wish he would take the high road and try to use his unique position to heal our nation rather than to aggravate that divide.
HH: He also actually used the N word today, and I’m still kind of stunned by that. Are you?
JC: Yeah, I am. It’s not something you’d expect to hear from the president of the United States. And I just think, I don’t really understand what his point is by doing that. He has to know that this is going to be extremely offensive to an awful lot of people, and just seems gratuitous.
HH: Let’s move on to the aftermath of Charleston, Senator. Yesterday, I was on Face the Nation with Gwen Ifill and Michael Gerson and David Ignatius, and John Dickerson, who’s doing a wonderful job with that show. And it was interesting to me. A week ago when I was on with Chuck Todd, we were talking about Islamic State almost exclusively, and yesterday, we were obviously talking about the aftermath of Charleston. Events move so fast that people overlook what Devin Nunes said on the show, which is America is at more danger of a terrorist attack, in his opinion as chair of the House Intelligence Committee than we have ever been. And that included before 9/11, which means imminent. What do you think of what the Chairman was saying?
JC: Well, I think he’s right. That’s corroborated by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence. And just as you begin to look around the world, yeah, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence concurs with that assessment. And when you survey the world from North Korea to the Middle East, to Russia, to the Baltic states, it is a very, very dangerous world we’re living in. So it remains shocking to me that people don’t see the connection between America’s receding from its leadership role in the world and the encouragement that it gives to the thugs and pirates around the world.
HH: Now let’s turn to the subject at hand, which is the Defense Authorization, Defense Appropriations Act, and the Democrats that are sitting across the aisle from you in the Senate are apparently not willing to move forward on these bills. Where do we stand, Senator Cornyn, on these issues?
JC: Well, after a lot of threats, Hugh, we actually did get a big vote. I think it was 71senators voted for the Defense Authorization bill, big bipartisan vote. But then we turned to the bill that would actually pay the salary and benefits to our volunteer military and their families, and the Democrats filibustered it, not because they disagreed with what was in the bill, but because they want to use that as leverage to open negotiations for additional spending. And why they decided to pick the Defense Appropriations bill at a time when the world is on fire, as we discussed a moment ago, strikes me as extremely foolish and reckless.
HH: And so what is the schedule for getting a vote on Approps, because it does seem that it is foolish and reckless. And so obviously, it’s got to be put before them and the debate begun. When does that actually get squarely put before them?
JC: Well, of course, they blocked it once. Senator McConnell, using his prerogative as majority leader, changed his vote and now can move to reconsider it anytime. I hope we do that. We’re a little bit bogged down in some of the redo on the trade votes this week, but I trust that we’ll get to voting on that again before the end of the week. And then I hope we’ll turn to Veterans Administration and military construction funding, I think, to keep the pressure up and to break this kind of foolish, this kind of foolishness.