Texas Republicans prioritize spending federal relief funds on border security

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texas lawmakers begin preparing for the upcoming special session, where they’ll be asked to dictate how to spend Texas’ share of $350 billion in federal pandemic relief funds, Republican leaders are pushing for border security to be a top priority.

In interim charges sent to a dozen Texas House committees, House Speaker Dade Phelan asked members “to review the distribution of federal pandemic recovery funds and their potential use to respond to the border crisis in addition to their individual directives.”

Individual committees were also given their own unique charges.

While the Appropriations Committee is tasked with reviewing the federal rules and regulations on how the funds can be spent, with a focus on “the recent increase in migration along the Texas-Mexico border, the Public Education Committee is asked to examine the impact to Texas public schools as a result of children crossing the border.

In addition to the Appropriations and Public Education Committees, the Corrections, County Affairs, Defense and Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security and Public Safety, Human Services, International Relations and Economic Development, Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, Public Health and Transportation Committees all have unique charges related to the Texas-Mexico border situation.

In a statement, Phelan said, “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, and 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.”

However, Texas’ 13 democratic members of congress worry Republicans could be planning to spend some of that relief money on border wall construction.

In a letter sent from Congressman Lloyd Doggett to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Doggett writes, “We urge the Department of Treasury to make clear in the interim final rule that these Recovery Funds cannot be used for a border wall, fence, or similar installation.”

A special session in the Texas House to determine how to spend the American Rescue Plan funds is expected to happen in the fall.