Texas’ Top Elected Leaders Converge On El Paso

Aug 9, 2019

The’ “big three” – Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen met with members of the Legislature who represent El Paso.

From the Texas Standard

Wednesday, President Donald Trump visited El Paso. The El Paso Times reports the president visited two families of shooting victims at the University Medical Center. Hospital officials told the newspaper they were the only two families who consented to talk with the president.  But he received a more enthusiastic welcome from the mayor, and from GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott also headed up another meeting with Texas officials in El Paso. 

John Moritz, who covers Texas politics for The USA Today Network says “the big three” statewide elected officials – Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen met with a delegation of state lawmakers who represent El Paso.

“It was clear going in that the governor wanted to get out in front of this issue,” Moritz says. “It’s a very emotional time in El Paso and the mass shootings are capturing national attention. So Abbott wanted to meet with lawmakers on the ground.”

All three state leaders are Republicans, while the El Paso delegation members are all Democrats.

The group did not arrive at any agreements about policy changes related to gun violence, but “did promise that $5 million in state aid would be coming to El Paso and El Paso County to offset costs… related to the shooting,” Moritz says. 

Abbott said he will convene at least three roundtables similar to those that met after the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018. But, he said, he wants those panels to go further than the previous meetings, which were focused on school safety. Moritz says the post-Santa Fe roundtables steered clear of any discussion of gun-related issues.

“I got the sense talking with Democratic lawmakers afterwards that they do want to go deeper into the issue,” Moritz says. 

Some Democrats have called on the governor to call a special session of the legislature. Abbott has not addressed those requests.

On the national level, Cruz said in El Paso that Congress needs to do more.” Moritz says Cruz didn’t specify what initiatives he favored, but expressed opposition to “red flag” laws that would restrict access to firearms for people who have a mental illness diagnosis.

Moritz says Cornyn expressed a belief that Congress should address the availability of high-capacity ammunition magazine. 

Written by Shelly Brisbin.