Continuing his pattern of undermining conservatives and deceiving voters, House Speaker Joe Straus is poised to unravel the state’s border security operations on Dec. 1, while giving Democrats a political tool to use against conservatives. Due to Straus’ opposition, the state’s celebrated “border surge” is set to end in March rather than receive full funding through the end of the fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Pro-Straus mailers claim credit for border security measures that Team Straus has in fact undermined.
UNDERMINING BORDER SECURITY OPERATIONS
Last summer, the Obama Administration did nothing while waves of illegal aliens flooded across the Texas border, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis for our state. While Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst quickly reacted to address the illegal immigration crisis, the Houston Chronicle’s headline told the story: Border Plan Held Up by Straus.
Despite Straus’ obstruction, state funds were eventually allocated so that the National Guard could be sent to protect our southern border.
A new deadline is looming. On Dec. 1, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) will meet to consider a proposal to extend state funding for border security operations which are currently set to expire. Under law, the LBB can shift funds within the budget when the legislature is not in session.
While responsible conservative leaders want the border security funding extended through the end of the fiscal year (August 2015), Straus told the Houston Chronicle last week he would only agree to extend funding until March. This shortfall will result in an immediate “winding down” of the border surge. The Houston Chronicle called it a “defeat” for border-security conservatives and a “victory for Democrats who have sharply criticized the National Guard deployment.”
Worse, the move gives Democrats a political tool to use against conservatives in the coming session.
POLITICAL COVER FOR MASSIVE NEW SPENDING INCREASES
Straus’ efforts are designed to create a crisis next session which will empower Democrats to hold border security funding hostage to massive new spending increases.
As you know, Straus has relied on the support of the Left since first being elected Speaker in 2009 by the Democrats and 11 liberal Republicans. By cutting off funding for border security operations in March, Straus is lending the Left a distinct political advantage while handing a defeat to Texans wanting to protect our borders. When funds dry up in March, the withdrawal of the National Guard will create a crisis that can be exploited by Straus and the Democrats to bust the state’s constitutional spending cap.
Instead of meeting border security needs with existing funds, Straus will offer a new spending package in excess of the constitutional spending limit as the only option for maintaining the border deployment. Conservatives will be forced to choose between continued funding for border security, and busting the constitutional cap on spending, a move which would empower Democrats to spend billions on Medicaid funding and other pet projects instead of tax relief for hard working Texans.
DECEIVING VOTERS ABOUT BORDER SECURITY RECORD
In advance of a challenge by conservative State Rep. Scott Turner, Straus has been busy rewriting the history of his lack of leadership on border security. For example, a recent fluff-piece sent by a Straus-controlled PAC touting the “House Leadership” noted that the House had passed legislation banning “sanctuary cities” while the Senate had not.
In fact, the House did pass such a measure in the 2011 legislative session, but Democrats were able to kill it in the Senate using a procedural rule. That rule went away when Governor Perry called a special session to address the issue of sanctuary cities. That time around, Republicans in the Senate moved quickly to pass the measure.5 When it went to the House, liberal Republican Byron Cook – one of Straus’ top lieutenants – made sure the measure died in his committee.
Senate Republicans voted twice to ban sanctuary cities, while the Straus leadership conspired with Democrats to kill it. Straus kept any bill eliminating sanctuary cities from even reaching the House floor in 2013.
GOP apologists for Straus are also claiming credit for the Texas House voting down a measure last session providing drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. What don’t they tell you? It was Joe Straus’ team that was working to give drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens in the first place! Put correctly: House conservatives defeated the Straus Team’s plans to give drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens.
STRAUS SUPPORTERS ENABLE DECEPTION
When the LBB meets on Dec. 1, Straus is on-record saying he will only extend border security funding until March. That gives Democrats what they want, and undermines conservatives.
Any Republican supporting Joe Straus’ re-election as House Speaker is collaborating with Democrats to cripple border security funding and bust the state’s constitutional spending limit. This is what many are poised to do unless they hear from their constituents.
House members supporting Joe Straus are enabling new border insecurity. Is that what they claimed they would do on the campaign trail? Border security is a front-and-center issue for all Texans, but Straus is using it to create a crisis benefiting the grow-government crowd in Austin.
Even if he were to reverse his position on Dec. 1 about border funding, Joe Straus has again demonstrated his speakership is run for the benefit of Democrats and special interests through undermining conservatives.
Texas Tribune’s editor, Ross Ramsey, wrote approvingly late last week that Joe Straus is set to block the conservatives in the state senate and their legislation. “Democrats are out of power when it comes to many issues in the Legislature,” Ramsey wrote. “They prevail only when they can attract moderate Republicans. If the House and Senate were both led and populated by more conservative Republicans, the state might adopt more conservative laws than it has now.”
Until a conservative Speaker is elected, there is no reason to believe Straus’ systematic pattern of disingenuous behavior will change.