Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, last week I had a chance to travel the State of Texas. Of course, the Presiding Officer can imagine, I had a chance to move around the State to listen to what people were saying and, frankly, to tell them what it is we have done on their behalf in the Senate so far this year. By and large, I heard that folks are happy to see the Senate back to work, under new management, and getting things done that they elected us to do.
I spent a good amount of time out in West Texas and in the panhandle and had a chance to speak to a number of farmers and ranchers in that part of the State. They are, frankly, very pleased to hear that they will soon have access to new markets in Asia now that the trade promotion authority bill has been passed and is the law of the land, and we are currently in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The trade promotion authority, of course, passed last month and was [Page: S4670]
signed by the President, and it represents a true bipartisan accomplishment between Congress and the President. While it is true that I disagree with the President more often than I agree with him, in this case we can both agree that opening new markets for our farmers, ranchers, and our small business people is good for our States and good for the country.
Getting Texas beef, cattle, cotton, and other goods to new markets translates into better jobs, better wages, and a better economic climate for hard-working Texans. But of course passing the trade promotion authority legislation is just one example of what this Chamber has accomplished so far this year. Under new leadership, the Senate has made tremendous progress from what this Senate used to be. We have seen the return to regular order, functioning as a deliberate body that considers a wide
range of legislation to benefit the everyday lives of the American people.
I think pointing out that we voted on more than 130 amendments, compared to just the 15 that were voted on last year, is a great indicator that this Chamber is actually back working the way it should. The good news is, whether you are in the majority or the minority, everyone is getting a chance to participate in this process, and regular voting on amendments brought by any of our Members is now typical and not the exception to the rule.
I mention we passed the trade legislation, but overall the Senate has passed more than 40 bipartisan bills. We have seen 22 of those already signed into law by President Obama. So the American people let their voices be heard last November 4. They sent us here to do their work. This week, we will take up another important piece of legislation. We will take up an education bill that will ultimately give school districts in Texas and across the country more flexibility and more power to make the
best choices for their students.
I know the HELP Committee--the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee--the committee of jurisdiction in education matters, has worked hard under the leadership of Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray. They brought this bill to the floor with a unanimous vote in the committee. So I and others look forward to an open amendment process and a vigorous debate over our Nation's education priorities and the important role the States play and local control plays in
making sure all students have access to educational opportunities.
Later this week, we will likely have a chance to reconcile the language between the House and the Senate version of the Defense authorization bill, a bill that will help equip our Armed Forces with the resources and give them the authorities they need to keep our country safe. Of course, the Senate will also continue discussions on how to responsibly address the challenges facing the highway trust fund and find a way forward for our transportation networks.
I remain optimistic that this Chamber can ultimately take up appropriations bills that are needed to fund our troops on the battlefield and care for our veterans upon their return. Last month, our Democratic friends laid out a strategy, something they called the filibuster summer, saying unless they get 100 percent of what they want, that they are not going to allow the Senate to proceed to consider these appropriations bills.
Well, I would like to just remind them there is a lot of work we have to do that needs to be done, and if we could just get back in the spirit of this bipartisan cooperation, everybody can let their voice be heard and their vote will count, but pure partisanship will not get the job done. The many Texans I spoke to back home want this spirit of diligent, focused work to continue. They certainly want to see us provide the resources to our troops that they need to carry out their mission. So while
we have a strong track record so far in the 114th Congress, we still have a lot of work to do. I hope my friends across the aisle will continue to work with us on behalf of the people who sent us here.
Separately, I know my colleagues and I are anxiously awaiting the news of the final outcome of Secretary Kerry's ongoing negotiations regarding Iran and its nuclear aspirations. As we all know, earlier this year, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which guarantees that Congress, on behalf of the American people, will have time to study, scrutinize, debate, and then ultimately vote on whether we approve or disapprove of the negotiated deal between Secretary Kerry and the administration
If the President reaches a deal with Iran by Thursday, then Congress will have up to 30 days to review it and then to vote on whether to approve it. As I have said all along, I have grave concerns about how the President has been negotiating with one of our foremost adversaries, a country that constantly threatens the American people and our allies and has done nothing to garner our trust or respect.
The broad outlines of the deal--of the potential deal--we have seen reported in the press don't look particularly promising. It seems to get actually worse by the day. So I strongly encourage the President and Secretary Kerry to remember that if you want a deal badly enough, that is exactly what you are going to get is a bad deal. So ``any deal at any cost'' is not the mantra of the American people who are understandably very wary of any agreement with Iran.
But, fortunately, the Senate has proved we will not stand by and watch the President as he makes far-reaching agreements without the consent of the American people through their elected representatives. So I look forward to working with my colleagues to give very careful scrutiny, certainly the sort of scrutiny this proposed deal deserves, to make sure our country's best interests are protected. If this deal does not protect our national security and the security of the region and our allies,
Congress may have no other choice than to vote it down by passing a resolution of disapproval.
I yield the floor.