Speaker Phelan Directs Committees to Focus on Border Crisis Issues but Leaves Out Wall - Texas Scorecard

On Tuesday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) announced interim committee charges related to the Texas-Mexico border but failed to mention a key element of border security: a wall. Phelan’s announcement came one day before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met with former President Donald Trump in the Rio Grande Valley, where they participated in a briefing on the border crisis and toured parts of the unfinished border wall.

Phelan had indicated he would issue specific charges two weeks earlier, on June 16, when Abbott held a press conference announcing his State of Texas border wall construction strategy while surrounded by Phelan, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, chairs of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees, and other Republican lawmakers.

Interim charges are directions given by leadership in each chamber of the Legislature to committees to study certain issues, hear public and invited testimony, and recommend legislative solutions via a report to other lawmakers.

“These interim charges present an opportunity for the Texas House to better understand the impact of what is currently happening along our state’s border with Mexico,” Phelan said in his announcement:

I expect each committee to get to work listening to the public, studying these issues, and recommending the best course of action in response to the charges I’ve given.

 

With [a] special session on the horizon, we know that this will not be a normal legislative interim, yet the importance of getting these particular issues right means that we must begin to work on them immediately. Although the challenges along our border may be familiar, they demand continuously innovative solutions, and I look forward to the work these committees will do in that regard.

Twelve House committees received charges specific to their jurisdictions, while also receiving a blanket charge to “review the ongoing development of federal laws, rules, and regulations associated with the distribution of the federal pandemic recovery funds, including reporting requirements, and make recommendations to the House Committee on Appropriations for use of the funds to respond to the Texas-Mexico border crisis.”

The 12 committees include the House Appropriations, Correction, County Affairs, Defense & Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security & Public Safety, Human Services, International Relations & Economic Development, Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence, Juvenile Justice & Family Issues, Public Education, Public Health, and Transportation committees.

None of the interim charges explicitly mention a border wall or barrier, even though Abbott has made completing the wall a focal point of his strategy to address the ongoing border crisis.

Some of the charges do attempt to address some of the issues brought up by Abbott in previous engagements, such as jail capacity and logistical and personnel support for law enforcement personnel already engaged in addressing the crisis.

Phelan said additional charges on other issues will be distributed at a later date.

The committee charges can be found here: