Governor Splits with Trump on Congress Deal
as Patrick Vows Closure at Border if Biden Out

Capitol Inside
March 29, 2024

Governor Greg Abbott threw a loop into the fight that Donald Trump and Republicans have waged against immigration reform in Congress on Thursday when he reportedly told U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson that federal legislation was needed to curb the flow of migrants into Texas illegally between federal ports of entry.

Abbott's admonishment came a day after Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick vowed that Texas leaders and lawmakers would shut down the Texas border with Mexico on Trump's first day back in office if he ousts President Joe Biden in a rematch at the polls this fall.

"We're just not taking it anymore, Laura," Patrick told Fox News host Laura Ingraham in an interview that spanned nearly four minutes on Wednesday night.

"And I promise you if Joe Biden is gone - Donald Trump, Greg Abbott, myself and the Texas Legislature - we'll close that border on day one," Patrick declared. "We've had it."

Patrick failed to articulate exactly how closure at the southern border would work. While Trump may have the power as president to close the international bridges that link the Lone Star State to Mexico to all foot and vehicular traffic, the lieutenant governor didn't reveal what the Republicans in Austin could do to accomplish what he promised the state would do to shutter a border that stretches 1,250 miles from Brownsville to El Paso.

Patrick declined to say whether Trump, Abbott, himself and state lawmakers would find a way to block all the trains that haul products from Mexico to Texas each and every day. Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, also did not address the potential devastation that the closing of the border bridges would inflict on the state and national economies.

Abbott learned the hard way about the exorbitant cost to government and the economy by halting trade at the Rio Grande. Abbott brought the traffic on international bridges to a halt for nine days in April 2022 with Texas Department of Public Safety truck inspections at key ports. Abbott's border blockade took an estimated $4 billion bite out of the economy and disrupted a supply chain at a time when it was already staggering in the midst of the covid pandemic.

Abbott used the maneuvering to coax the governors of four Mexican border states into signing agreements that promised to enforce border security for Texas south of the Rio Grande. Abbott threatened to revive the truck safety stops if they reneged. But Abbott failed to make good on the threats when the Mexican governors did nothing to honor the pacts with Texas that they all signed under extreme duress.

Trump made the same threats about closing the border as the president during a record migrant surge in 2019. But Trump proved to be bluffing and never appeared to have an actual plan to close off the border.

Abbott in the meantime ran the risk of MAGA wrath based on a push for congressional action in a meeting with Johnson at the Governor's Mansion in downtown Austin on Thursday. Abbott did not mention this in a social media post that touted the House speaker's visit and concerns they shared about border security without a word on legislation in Washington D.C. that would be a product of bipartisan negotiations and support. But Newsweek reported the comments on a budget deal in Congress on Friday.

"Met with @SpeakerJohnson today at the Governor’s Mansion in Texas," Abbott wrote last night on X. "We discussed the need to secure the border and to hold President Biden accountable for his disastrous policies. Until then, Texas will continue to hold the line."

The Biden administration has argued that Trump coaxed Republicans in Congress into blocking the immigration compromise that the president urged the U.S. House and Senate to send to him. The Republicans in the District of Columbia are preoccupied now with the impeachment of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas - a process that Johnson wants the Republican-controlled House complete by April 10.

Johnson, who has no authority in the upper house of Congress, said he expects a full trial in the Senate on the Mayorkas impeachment. This would all be for show unless Johnson and his GOP allies in the House really believe that Democrats who run the Senate will bow to the rookie House leader's demands.

Trump and Republicans who've opposed a bipartisan deal on immigration fear the issue would lose some teeth as a talking point if there's an agreement before the general election in November. Abbott has a chance now to upstage Trump and Johnson with his unforeseen intervention in that fight in D.C.

more to come ...







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