He quickly backtracked after conservatives, already dismayed with his support for gun control, expressed outrage over concerns of a deal on amnesty.
Cornyn (R-TX) – the #2 Republican in the Senate, insists it was merely a joke, and his office claims there is no deal in the works.
His comments were reported by Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic as he observed lawmakers on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Bobic was noting the “good vibes” between Democrats and Republicans who had come together on advancing the gun control bill and noticed a smiling Cornyn speaking with Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA).
“First guns, now it’s immigration,” he reportedly told his Democrat counterpart.
“That’s right, we’re going to do it,” Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) added.
More positive ~~ vibes ~~ on Senate floor.
A smiling Cornyn tells Padilla, “First guns, now it’s immigration”
“That’s right, we’re going to do it,” Sinema added
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 21, 2022
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RELATED: 14 Senate Republicans Help Democrats Advance Gun Control Bill Just Two Hours After It Was Released
Cornyn Says He Was ‘Joking’ on Immigration
Cornyn’s comments on a bipartisan immigration bill being in the works drew criticism from those on the right who feel he already betrayed them and their constitutional rights.
As the #2 Republican in the Senate, he was tapped by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to “negotiate” with Democrats on gun control, coming up with a bill that contains enhanced background checks for anyone under 21, establishes a federal grant program to encourage states to create ‘red flag’ laws, and increases funding for school safety and mental healthcare.
The ‘red flag’ laws are a major point of contention for conservatives, as they allow authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others, without having been convicted of a crime – weakening the Second and Fifth Amendments.
The 14 Republicans Who Voted To Advance Democrats’ Gun Control Wish List Just Betrayed Their Base https://t.co/WJfVeDTAOh
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) June 22, 2022
The bill advanced with the help of 14 Senate Republicans by a vote of 64-34, and is expected to be passed by the end of the week, then head to the Democrat-controlled House and onto President Biden’s desk.
Cornyn’s comments forced House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to issue a statement through Axios that he has no intention of pursuing immigration legislation.
“Amnesty is a non-starter with me and won’t be taken up by a House Republican majority,” he said, clearly expecting big midterm gains.
Amid right’s backlash to Cornyn’s comments, Kevin McCarthy @GOPLeader tells Axios: “Amnesty is a non starter with me and won’t be taken up by a House Republican majority. Our border crisis is the worst in history and the only immigration plan should be to secure the border… 1/2 https://t.co/DthyC6XgKu
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) June 22, 2022
Cornyn, running damage control, told Breitbart News that the immigration comment was nothing more than a light-hearted joke.
“The Democrats and their allies in the media really can’t take a joke,” he said. “There’s no secret amnesty bill.”
It’s unclear why Cornyn would be joking with a Democrat about the matter or what the “joke” is supposed to be.
Update to earlier story about Cornyn’s immigration comment to Padilla last night:
Cornyn now claims he was joking, despite working w/ Padilla as recently as April on a deal.
So we asked: Why would Cornyn joke about such a serious crisis for his state and the country? pic.twitter.com/iHwwplwIF8
— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) June 22, 2022
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Cornyn’s Past Views on Amnesty
Senator John Cornyn’s decision to joke about amnesty when he can’t really afford to lose any more political capital after being booed at the Texas Republican Party convention last Friday is an odd one.
BREAKING: Sen. John Cornyn gets BOOED at Republican Party of Texas Convention.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) June 17, 2022
Perhaps he’s onto something, however. After all, Bobic’s report indicates Cornyn’s mood after siding with Democrats on gun control was pretty jovial.
At one point, Cornyn was seen shaking hands with Democrat leader Senator Chuck Schumer.
He mocked Republican colleagues for taking their time in making a decision on a bill that could affect the rights of law-abiding citizens.
“It’s only 80 pages long, how long do you need to read it?” he was overheard saying.
Cornyn joked about getting booed at the convention, telling Senator Ted Cruz: “Ted I think you had more fun at the convention than I did.”
Bobic reports that the Texas Republican and Sinema kept “ribbing” Republicans who were taking their time, and that the “Dem rank and file were shaking Cornyn’s hand.”
Inside the room, there was a jovial mood. Cornyn and Sinema kept ribbing Rs who were lagging, asking why it took so long to read 80pg bill. Schumer thanked Rs who voted aye one by one, even Collins. Dem rank and file were shaking Cornyn’s hand. Tillis snapped pic of GOP yes list
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 22, 2022
Just an all-around good time.
Cornyn’s “joke” is on a topic in which he has expressed willingness to compromise with Democrats in the past.
After the United States Supreme Court upheld an Obama-era amnesty program in 2020, Cornyn said it was time to find a “permanent solution” to allow so-called DREAMers a path to amnesty.
DREAMers are people who were brought to the United States unlawfully as children.
“DACA recipients deserve a permanent, legislative solution. We must take action and pass a law that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home they’ve ever known,” he said. “They deserve nothing less.”
DACA recipients deserve a permanent, legislative solution. We must take action and pass a law that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home they’ve ever known. They deserve nothing less. https://t.co/ldCtQx8KZe
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 18, 2020
In a July 2021 letter, Cornyn joined Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) in calling for amnesty for DACA recipients.
The Republican senators requested a bill to “offer permanent legal status to only currently enrolled and activate participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”
So, maybe Cornyn’s comments were a “joke,” but maybe they were an accidental window into the next legislation he’d like to help Democrats get across the finish line.
Regardless, whatever he decides to do, the gun control bill is already a joke of the worst order. And it’s always the law-abiding American people that are made out to be the butt of it.
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