A day after Gov. Greg Abbott backed extending the Texas National Guard’s stay at the Mexico border, House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday that he will work to make that happen but that he remained opposed to a "long-term deployment."
Speaking to reporters after addressing a Texas Association of Business conference Wednesday, Straus said he was working “closely with Gov. Abbott and our friends in the Senate” to develop a border security plan that satisfies everyone but that “longer term will not involve the National Guard, which is not created for a long-term deployment of this type.”
Last week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for $12 million in state spending to maintain a National Guard presence at the border through May, with the hope of finding funding later to extend the deployment for even longer. Straus said at the time he would wait for direction from Abbott, the commander in chief of the state's military forces, suggesting he did not agree with Patrick’s proposal.
In his State of the State speech Tuesday, Abbott said, "As governor, I have identified funds to keep the National Guard in place until the Legislature acts." He went on to say that National Guard troops could leave the border once DPS had "permanent resources needed to secure our border" but did not provide a specific time frame for that.
"We must remember the hardship such long deployment puts on our National Guard troops, on their families and on their careers," Abbott said.
Straus said the House is working well with Abbott’s office and the Senate and suggested that media reports were framing a wider division between the state’s top leaders than actually exists.
“I think some of the stories recently are exaggerating the situation,” Straus said. He added later: “In the House we don’t say, ‘Here, vote on this. This is what the speaker wants.’ We have ideas. We have a lot of leaders and a thorough discussion.”
Straus addressed the business conference hours before Abbott, Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz were scheduled to hold a press conference on a federal judge's decision to halt President Obama's executive order on illegal immigration. Asked about his not being listed as among the event's attendees, Straus said, “I’m not aware of it.”