News Roundup: John Cornyn Wants To Know How Big The Nationwide Rape Kit Backlog Is

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines from across the state.

By Becky FogelJuly 26, 2018 1:21 pm

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says he and other lawmakers need to ensure enough is being done to reduce the backlog of untested rape kits nationwide. Cornyn sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard from the Department of Justice last week, ahead of the upcoming reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act. The law, first passed in 2004, provides, among other things, funds for local authorities to process DNA evidence from rape kits.

At that hearing last Wednesday, federal officials could not provide Sen. Cornyn and his fellow Senators with an accurate count of how many DNA evidence kits still need to be tested. Cornyn discussed that with reporters yesterday:

“I think we just need to remain vigilant here, make sure that the roughly $120 million dollars that is authorized to be spent under the Debbie Smith Act is spent well, and continue to hold the feet to the fire of the authorities who are responsible for administering the program,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn added, that at one point, there was an estimated backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits across the country.

Fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and expressed similar frustration with the lack of data.


Republican Sen. Cruz has challenged Democratic opponent Rep. Beto O’Rourke to five debates before the November election. From KERA North Texas, Rachel Osier Lindley reports that the Cruz campaign sent a letter to the El Paso Congressman requesting the debates, which would start in Dallas at the end of August. Topics on the table for that first debate would include taxes, jobs and the economy, and federal regulations.

O’Rourke’s campaign had first proposed six debates, including two in Spanish. The campaign later offered to replace the Spanish debates with two more in English, after Cruz told reporters that his Spanish wasn’t good enough.

The debates proposed by the Cruz campaign would take place across Texas on Friday nights, including McAllen, San Antonio, Houston and Lubbock. Formats would vary, from town halls to podium setups, and would cover immigration, foreign policy, energy and healthcare.

O’Rourke responded in a statement to reporters: “I am encouraged that Sen. Cruz has decided that he’s ready to debate the issues. Our campaign looks forward to working with his campaign to finalize mutually agreed upon details.”

The NFL and its players union are still talking about how to handle player protests during the National Anthem. But Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has already made up his mind.
At a press conference yesterday. Jones said he wouldn’t support anyone who chose to stay in the locker room.
“Our policy is that you stand at the anthem, toe on the line,” Jones said.
The league and the players’ union last week agreed to temporarily suspend a new rule that would require players on the sideline to stand for the anthem. Players who do not want to stand could stay in the locker room, but they would face disciplinary action if they took a knee or sat during the anthem on the field.
Jones added President Donald Trump’s comments about players protesting for social justice during the anthem has made the situation worse.

“Yes, his interest in what we’re doing is problematic from my chair,” Jones said. “And I would say in general the owners’ chair. It’s unprecedented if you really think about it.”

Still, Jones spoke with Trump about the protests numerous times last season.