President Trump has abandoned the idea of trying to get Mexico to pay for his wall. Now he’s reportedly eyeing money allocated to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. But that idea is extremely unpopular with Texas Republicans, including the Lone Star State’s governor and both of its U.S. Senators.
The Texas Tribune reported Wednesday that Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), as well as nearly two dozen Democratic and Republican members of Congress representing Texas, all co-signed a letter demanding Trump leave Hurricane Harvey funding alone in his quest to fund border wall construction.
“Recent reports have indicated that your administration is considering the use of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funds, appropriated by Congress and intended for Hurricane Harvey recovery and mitigation efforts, in an effort to secure our southern border,” the letter read.
“We strongly support securing the border with additional federal resources including tactical infrastructure, technology, ports of entry improvements and personnel. However, we are strongly opposed to using funds appropriated by Congress for disaster relief and mitigation for Texas for any unintended purpose.”
The letter is in response to a recent report about Trump reportedly considering using U.S. Army Corps of Engineers money and personnel dedicated to disaster-stricken areas that suffered major disasters in 2017, like Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled the Houston area and caused fatal, record-breaking floods and billions of dollars in damage. As Grit Post previously reported, funding for Puerto Rico reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Maria could also be sent to the Southern border.
Texas Republicans rebuking Trump’s wall in an official letter is significant, as much of the border wall Trump wants to build would be on the estimated 1,254 miles of land Texas shares with Mexico. It’s also politically significant, as Trump handily won Texas in 2016 by a nine-point margin. The fact that much of its Congressional delegation wrote a letter denying him funding from the Hurricane Harvey pot suggests Texans’ political support for Trump’s wall proposal is waning.
This could also be because the Houston area is still at risk from future storms like Hurricane Harvey. An August 2018 article in The Atlantic on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall reported on how there’s still plenty of flood mitigation work to be done in Houston to prevent the kind of flooding that devastated America’s fourth-largest city in 2017. Much of that work is typically done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Nine lawmakers from the Houston metro area co-signed the letter, according to the Tribune, including six Republicans. Eight Texas Republicans from around the state also co-signed the letter, in addition to three Democrats.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.