January 28, 2021

Grieder: Deadly events of past week cast pall over opening day of Texas Legislature


Texas Republicans wish to transfer on from the lethal occasions in Washington, D.C. final week — and absolutely from Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

“He’s in workplace, what, one other week?” stated Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, when requested about requires Trump’s removing within the wake of the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

He defended the president, albeit not notably vigorously, when requested if Trump bears any duty for inciting the riot, which left 4 rioters and one Capitol Police officer lifeless.

“Violence all the time, clearly, is unacceptable,” Abbott stated. “However the folks liable for that violence are the individuals who did it, and so they’re those who ought to be punished for it.”

That’s a conclusion that many Republicans have swiftly embraced over the previous week whereas calling on Democrats, together with President-Elect Joe Biden, to maneuver ahead within the title of therapeutic and “unity.”

It’s a line of argument that’s sure to solid a pall over this 12 months’s common session of the Texas Legislature, which started on Tuesday.

The primary day of the session is often a festive one; that wasn’t the case this 12 months, because of the continuing COVID pandemic. Though the Texas Capitol is open to the general public, a destructive COVID check is required to enter, and most members have adopted some type of social distancing insurance policies for guests to their workplaces.

Along with that, there was a heavy Division of Public Security presence on the Capitol Tuesday — which was welcome, provided that the FBI is warning of armed protests in any respect 50 state capitols within the days main as much as Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

All issues thought of, nevertheless, it was a clean opening day for the 87th Legislature. Underneath totally different circumstances, it’d nicely be described as auspicious. Democrats and Republicans are totally on the identical web page about the necessity to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to persevering with to construct on the investments made in public training training two years in the past, together with different mainstream priorities.

And Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar had excellent news for lawmakers when he launched his Biennial Income Estimate Monday: the Lege faces a finances shortfall of some $950 million — vital, however a lot much less extreme than analysts had feared because the pandemic and shutdowns battered the state economic system.

There’ll little doubt be some pitched partisan scuffles because the session goes on. “I’m hopeful that Republicans will bear in mind what their celebration stands for and enact insurance policies accordingly,” state Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Republican who represents a part of Harris County, advised me Tuesday.

However because it stands, the pet populist challenge du jour for Republicans, who management each the Home and the Senate, appears to be passing laws that might permit Texans to buy alcohol to go — a pandemic-era innovation meant to help the struggling restaurant trade — completely. Freedom!

And a pleasant show of comity got here from the Texas Home, the place state Rep. Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican was elected Speaker with the help of all the chamber’s Democrats, and all however two of its Republicans.

As legislators had been taking their oaths of workplace, nevertheless, Trump was on his approach to Texas to tour a bit of the border wall erected within the Rio Grande Valley through the course of his presidency. The journey might have been deliberate as a approach to preserve the temperamental president busy, if not completely happy, through the grim denouement of his one time period in workplace. Nonetheless, it struck many Texas Democrats as sending fairly a special message .

Trump is “like a legal who returns to the scene of against the law,” stated U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso. Escobar represents a metropolis the place 23 folks had been shot and killed at a Walmart retailer in 2019 by a white nationalist from suburban Dallas who had posted a web based manifesto that echoed Trump’s immigration statements.

The president who launched his 2016 presidential bid warning of “rapists” from Mexico would absolutely reject Escobar’s characterization, as he’s rejected all requires him to take any duty for his function within the Jan. 6 mayhem. In short remarks to reporters Tuesday morning, he insisted his feedback calling on 1000’s at a rally exterior the White Home to march on the Capitol had been “completely acceptable.”

After arriving within the Rio Grande Valley, Trump expressed displeasure about the truth that he’s prone to develop into the primary president in historical past to be impeached twice.

“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the best and most vicious witch hunt within the historical past of our nation,” he stated, “and is inflicting great anger and division and ache — far higher than most individuals will ever perceive — which could be very harmful for the USA, particularly at this very tender time.”

Former state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, a West Texas Democrat, advised me legislators shouldn’t be naive concerning the threat of mischief that is perhaps perpetrated by Texans who’re, even now, having their grievances stoked by Trump and his allies. He thinks the 2021 session “actually requires a day-to-day technique.”

“It’s as much as the members to tamp down constituency nonsense that might deliver them to the (state) Capitol, placing others in hurt’s manner,” Nevárez stated.

Credit score is because of Phelan, the brand new speaker, who acknowledged “the darkish facet of political and social division” we’ve all seen, and inspired his colleagues to confront it straight.

“Historical past is born out of adversity,” Phelan stated, “and legacies are made by doing what is correct.”

That’s a greater strategy than the dismissive perspective Abbott embodied Monday.

“Hear, all of the political machinations in Washington, D.C., about the previous few days of his presidency are nothing greater than political machinations,” Abbott stated.

The governor might nicely imagine that. It’s exhausting to inform, today, what Republican leaders really imagine.

However those that hope that People will merely forgive and overlook what we’ve witnessed in these last days of Trump’s presidency are prone to discover that therapeutic received’t be really easy—and unity might require some work.

erica.grieder@chron.com



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