Static Between Straus and Patrick on Border Security Plan

AP Photo/Eric Gay
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Texas’ top statewide officials are not seeing eye to eye on the critical issue of border security. Public statements by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) and Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) seemed to indicate static between the leaders of the two chambers of the Legislature, and Breitbart Texas was unable to confirm if Patrick, Straus, or Governor Greg Abbott had communicated with each other before a press conference held by Patrick on Tuesday at the Capitol.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Patrick announced he was seeking $12 million to continue the deployment of the Texas National Guard to the border through May, as Breitbart Texas reported. The Guard had originally been deployed by former Texas Governor Rick Perry after a surge of families and unaccompanied minor children crossed the border illegally last summer. Then, in November, Perry, along with former Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and then finally Straus, had come to an agreement for a plan to fund deployment of the Guard through March.

During the press conference, Patrick predicted that President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty granting relief from deportation for millions of illegal immigrants would result in a new surge of people crossing the border this spring and summer, and said that “under no circumstance should we have a complete pullout of the National Guard next month.”

Then, shortly after Patrick’s press conference, Straus released a statement criticizing Patrick for stepping out in front of the issue, as reported by The Quorum Report, “I appreciate Governor Patrick’s remarks,” said Straus. “But, Governor Abbott is the Commander in Chief and he will decide whether to extend the National Guard’s deployment.”

Patrick’s language during the press conference may have revealed some of the underlying tension between him and Straus. Patrick twice mentioned that he was standing “shoulder to shoulder with” Abbott on border security, but only said that he would “work with” Straus on the issue. For example, at about the six minute mark of the video of the press conference posted at the Texas Senate website, Patrick says, “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Governor and we’ll work with the Speaker to supply that funding to keep them there so that they do not end their deployment in March.” Arguably, this could be interpreted as Patrick’s opinion that he is not in as close agreement with Straus as he is with Abbott on how best to secure the border, but that he will “work with” Straus on that.

“Straus has been the state leader dragging his feet on this issue,” said Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price, noting how Straus had been the last to agree to November’s plan to extend the border surge, whereas Patrick had publicly stated his support for the plan at that time.

Intriguingly, Breitbart Texas has been unable to get any confirmation that Patrick reached out to either Straus or Abbott’s office before making his announcement today, despite reaching out to all three offices multiple times.

An inquiry made to Patrick’s office received an email response from Keith Elkins in his Press Office: “Lt. Governor Dan Patrick meets regularly with Speaker Joe Straus and, like he said in his remarks during the news conference today, he looks forward to working with him and the Governor to fund border security.” Elkins also included some quotes from the press conference but never directly answered the question whether or not Straus or Abbott had been contacted prior to Patrick’s press conference.

So far, Abbott has not made any public comment about Patrick’s press conference. When Breitbart Texas contacted the Governor’s Press Office, we were told that they had received “a number of requests for comment on Lt. Gov. Patrick’s speech,” and would respond soon. Other sources close to the Governor would not confirm whether or not Patrick had reached out to them before the press conference. In the past, Abbott has made public statements supporting the border surge, although obviously not regarding the specific plan Patrick mentioned on Tuesday.

Likewise, Breitbart Texas reached out to Straus’ spokesman Jason Embry, who also would neither confirm nor deny if Patrick had reached out to their office before announcing his plan.

Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this story.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.


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