(CBSDFW.COM) – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he thinks President Joe Biden gave a good speech during his inaugural address and agrees lawmakers should try finding common ground. “I didn’t vote for President Biden, but now that he’s president, I look forward to working with him.”
But in an interview Thursday, Cornyn said it was “odd” that hours after his inaugural speech, the president was signing a stack of executive orders, many of which reverse former President Donald Trump’s actions. “I did find it a little ironic that on the same day he was talking about unity, he issues I believe it was 17 unilateral executive orders.”
They include pausing most deportations in the next 100 days and stopping border wall construction.
Cornyn said, “If he were serious about any of that, I think he would have taken this up with Congress because Congress is the only one that can pass a law. Executive actions are going to be tied up in litigation, and I think are more symbolic than anything else.”
Cornyn also criticized Biden’s order to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline extension, saying he’s kicking the Texas energy industry when it’s down. “It’s important to recognize that this is a critical part of our economy. We certainly don’t want to go back to dependency on imported oil from the Middle East. There are a lot of jobs at stake here.”
Cornyn’s interview comes more than two weeks since the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while he and other lawmakers were in the Senate Chamber debating whether to certify the 2020 election.
He said those who breached the Capitol should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.
When asked if he was afraid for his safety at any point, Cornyn said, “I think it was more of the uncertainty. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t really know the complete picture, sometimes my mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario.”
Cornyn said he voted to certify the 2020 election.
He disagreed with his fellow Republican lawmakers who objected, including Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s come under pressure by Democrats to resign or be expelled.
Cruz has said he’s not stepping down, and Cornyn said he shouldn’t. “Senator Cruz, like any senator, is entitled to express their point of view and vote the way they see fit. I do not support any effort to censure or expel a senator who takes a position that I personally do not agree with, as in this case.”
The Senate is now evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
Because Vice President Kamala Harris will break any tie votes, Democrats are in control.
One question hanging over the chamber is the fate of the filibuster.
Cornyn said it needs to remain. “I think it would be a gross abuse of power to eliminate the legislative filibuster. The traditional history of the Senate has been to protect minority voting rights by requiring a supermajority of 60 votes in order to close off debate, and then pass a law with 51 votes. In talking to some of my Democratic colleagues, I don’t think there are the votes there to eliminate the legislative filibuster, which I think is a good thing because rather than just rushing legislation through on a bare majority, what it forces is discussion, debate, negotiations compromise, which are, I think, part of the bedrock of our democracy and of the legislative process.”
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH SEN. CORNYN HERE