(The Center Square) – As thousands of people pour through the southern border into Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, all members of Texas’ Democratic congressional delegation voted to block federal funds from assisting Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security effort, Operation Lone Star.
In the last few days before the end of the fiscal year, which ends Saturday, Sept. 30, and ahead of a looming federal government shutdown, members of Congress over the past few days have debated and voted on various appropriations bills. Rather than support Abbott’s border security efforts, Texas’ Democratic congressional delegation supported an amendment to oppose any federal money going to help Texas or reimburse Texas for roughly $10 billion the state legislature allocated to fund OLS over the last two legislative sessions.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, filed an amendment to HR 4367 “to prohibit the use of federal funds to support Operation Lone Star.” Prior to voting on the amendment, members debated, expressing extreme opposing views.
U.S. Rep. Greg Casar, whose district stretches from Austin to San Antonio, said, “we must stop the dangerous, expensive, corrupt and ineffective stunts at the border and instead chart a new path for a safe, orderly and humane immigration system.” Cesar said Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star must end” and the amendment must pass “to ensure that federal funding does not go to this failed program. Every day, Gov. Abbott violates the rights of asylum seekers and violates the rights of our border communities all to score political points against President [Joe] Biden.”
He blamed the governor for the death of migrants and National Guardsmen at the border, arguing OLS “is not effective” and Abbott is “lighting $25 million on fire every week to cause suffering instead of creating solutions.” Cesar said OLS is unconstitutional, citing a Supreme Court case, Arizona v U.S., that the federal government has supremacy over the immigration system.
U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, a Republican who represents west Texas, said the debate was a perfect opportunity for Texans to understand the great divide that exists over policy.
“What an opportunity to have Texans debating Texans,” he said. “I hope that every Texan, from the RGV to Amarillo, from El Paso all the way to Beaumont, is listening to this debate because the line is clear: chaos, lawlessness, or law and order. Which is it going to be?”
Pfluger said he agrees with Casar that “the constitution clearly says this is a federal issue” but the president has “abdicated his responsibility.”
He cited apprehension data from the Del Rio Sector in Texas where Border Patrol agents reported 347,572 encounters with illegal foreign nationals fiscal year to date. They also reported 144,900 known gotaways, those who evaded capture, and made 2,155 criminal arrests.
“The gall to say that the governor of Texas doesn’t have the right to protect us when the federal government has completely abdicated?” Pfluger said. “Texas is the only government that is doing anything about this …”
He said the border crisis was created by the president because on his first day in office, “on day one, in January 2021, [he] reversed every policy that worked.”
“This amendment should have said that we are going to reimburse the state of Texas for $5 billion this year and $5 billion last year,” Pfluger said.
The amendment failed by nine votes, 220-211. All members of the Republican congressional delegation opposed it; U.S. Reps. John Carter and Tony Gonzales were absent.
All 13 Texas Democrats voted for it, including U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, who is running to defeat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Cruz recently reiterated what he’s been saying for two and a half years: Biden “refuses to follow the law.” He told Fox News that Biden “inherited incredible success. We had the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years. All Joe Biden had to do was not screw it up. Just continue to follow the law. In his first week in office, he halted construction of the border wall, he reinstated the disastrous policy of catch and release, and he pulled out the very successful Remain in Mexico agreement. That is what caused this border crisis.”