Editorial: Cornyn could bring reasonable thinking back to border issues among US Senate Republicans

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., announced he will step down as Senate Republican leader in November, at the Capitol in Washington. McConnell, 82, is the longest-serving Senate leader in history. He's maintained his power in the face of dramatic changes in the Republican Party. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)
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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has announced his desire to replace the retiring Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader. We hope his efforts — and tenure as the Senate’s top Republican member — are successful.

This isn’t just about rooting for the home-state senator. Certainly, Cornyn’s Texas roots — he was born in Houston and began his political career in San Antonio — are a factor. But throughout his tenure in Congress our senior senator has shown an understanding of border issues an an appreciation for humane justice that set him apart from far too many of his colleagues.

Simply put, we believe the fate of the border, and the Rio Grande Valley, would be in better hands with Cornyn directing his party’s actions, and policies, than with anybody else.

Cornyn also has the knowledge and seniority that an effective leader needs, and the character and strength to break from more dogmatic members of his party.

He already has held the second-highest position in the party, that of his party’s whip, from 2013 until 2019, when term limits for the position forced him to step down. Since he was first elected to the Senate in 2002, Cornyn has drawn praise for his ability to work toward consensus on major issues with both political parties.

Unfortunately, those traits also brought him opposition in recent years. His work negotiating a gun reform law in 2022 has roused opposition from gun rights advocates including the National Rifle Association, which previously had listed him as one of its top-rated lawmakers.

On the border, Cornyn has consistently fought to maintain trade that brings billions of dollars to the state and national economy every year. He has sponsored several bills to improve infrastructure that keeps that trade flowing, and negotiated compromise spending bills that have kept the government running through several near-shutdowns. That pragmatism, however, has raised the ire of Donald Trump and others who seem to think negotiation is a sign of weakness. Trump has openly condemned Cornyn since the senator voiced concerns that Trump’s legal problems might hinder his ability to draw enough votes to win a general election. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, an ardent Trump follower, already has denounced Cornyn as “anti-Trump” and “anti-gun.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is surrounded by reporters as he heads to the chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 7, 2024. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

Cornyn’s willingness to work for the greater good is far too scarce in today’s Washington, and he deserves praise, and support, for his willingness to swim across the current — and against his own colleagues — when necessary.

That’s exactly what’s needed with regard to the border at a time when demagoguery has raised calls to close our borders completely, ignoring the obvious economic devastation that would cause not only for the Valley, but for our nation as a whole.

We can only hope that there are still enough Congress members who recognize the need for true political processes in the political arena, and who aren’t stifled by fear of retribution from hard-liners if they cast a vote for reason when deciding their next Senate leader.

For the good of our Valley — and our country — we hope they give Cornyn strong consideration for that leadership role.