WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn expressed disappointment Wednesday after the Senate voted to reject a proposal to include a line-item veto provision in a bill authorizing an increase in the federal minimum wage.
“America’s small businesses are the engine driving America’s economy, and as we consider increasing the minimum wage, we must also consider the new burdens this will place on small business owners. Most studies show that unless an increase in the minimum wage is coupled with protections for small businesses in the form of new tax incentives, it will have negative effects on employment. So instead of simply raising the minimum wage as the Democrats would have us do, Republicans are standing with small business owners and are working to include protections that will offset higher labor costs.”
The Senate vote came a day after President Bush’s annual State of the Union address, which Cornyn said in a telephone interview remained “all the buzz” in Washington.
“The president laid out a comprehensive, forward-looking agenda that addresses many of the key issues facing America today. As governor of Texas, the president had a strong record of accomplishment in working with a Democrat-controlled Legislature. It is my sincere hope that Democrats in Washington will likewise work to meet the President halfway. The 110th Congress has started on a strong bipartisan note, but a lot of hard work remains. I hope both parties will continue working together in the best interests of the American people.”
Cornyn said last week’s lobbying and ethics reform measure was an important step in restoring Americans’ confidence, and the effort “demonstrated there are ways to work on a bipartisan basis. The minimum wage bill is another opportunity, but we must couple that with a tax and regulatory relief package for small businesses.”
To do otherwise could mean the minimum wage bill will have the unintended result of reducing employment opportunities in small business, where he said 70 percent of American jobs exist.
Cornyn said in the new Congress, the Senate will be in a better position to shape legislation coming out of the House of Representatives, because the narrow majority held by the Democrats will require more cooperation between the parties.
“The Senate is not the House,” Cornyn said. “A number of the bills passed by the House will be scrutinized on how we can make them better.”
On other topics, Cornyn said:
IRAQ — “The one thing we should all agree on is that our military men and women serving in Iraq, and their leaders, should be given a reasonable chance to execute the president’s plan. The president has made clear that the consequences of failure pose a serious threat to our nation’s security and economic interests. So the United States must unify in its effort to achieve victory and avoid playing politics with national security.”
Immigration Reform and Border Security — “I remain committed to seeking a comprehensive solution to one of the top domestic issues facing our nation. Congress has taken some steps in the right direction to secure our borders, but we can and must do more. This comprehensive effort will require improving border and interior enforcement by equipping law enforcement agencies with the additional personnel, up-to-date technology and infrastructure needed to carry out this vital mission. Also, we should implement a successful employment-verification system, which includes adequate information-sharing and the ability to identify theft and document fraud. And we need broader reforms of our broken immigration system to restore respect for the rule of law, while also protecting our nation’s security and the U.S. economy.”
Energy Independence — “President Bush continues to address a pressing challenge — increasing domestic energy production and decreasing our dependence on foreign sources. Greater enersgy independence is a key to our economic and national security. We need a consistent and strategic energy policy that efficiently utilizes our domestic resources, diversifies our energy sources, and invests in new and cleaner technologies, rather than to pursue expensive or punitive patchwork policies that do not produce long-term solutions. I will continue working with my colleagues to develop such solutions.”