NewsLocal News

Actions

GOP mulls next move after Kansas governor vetoes effort to help Texas in border security fight

Immigration Texas Kansas.
Posted at 12:48 PM, Apr 25, 2024

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas' governor is blocking an attempt by Republican legislators to give the state's National Guard a “border mission" of helping Texas in its partisan fight with the Biden administration over illegal immigration.

Top Republicans in the Kansas House were considering Thursday whether their chamber can muster the two-thirds majority necessary to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's veto of immigration provisions in the next state budget. The Senate's top Republican promised to mount an override effort, but the House would vote first.

Kelly on Wednesday vetoed a budget provision that would have directed her administration to confer with Texas' Republican governor, Greg Abbott, and send Kansas National Guard personnel or equipment to the border. The GOP proposal would have helped Texas enforce a state law allowing its officials to arrest migrants suspected of crossing into the U.S. illegally. She also vetoed a provision setting aside $15.7 million for the effort.

Abbott is in a legal battle with Democratic President Joe Biden's administration, which insists the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government control of border security. In her veto message, Kelly said border security is a federal issue and suggested that the budget provisions improperly encroached on her power as the Kansas National Guard's commander in chief.

“It is not the Legislature's role to direct the operations or call out the National Guard,” she wrote. “When a governor deploys soldiers as part of a federal mission, it is done intentionally and in a manner that ensures we are able to protect our communities.”

Kansas legislators reconvened Thursday after a spring break and are scheduled to wrap up their work for the year Tuesday.

Republicans nationwide have expressed support for Texas, and Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson acknowledged Thursday that the $15.7 million in spending by Kansas would represent mostly “moral support” for Texas' much larger effort.

Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, said the state constitution gives legislators the authority to pass laws to give directions to agencies under Kelly's control.

“She’s tied in with the Biden administration, so she’s not motivated to help solve that problem,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Kansas House and Senate approved separate resolutions expressing support for Texas. Democrats said the Texas governor's stance is constitutionally suspect and has created a humanitarian crisis.

Masterson said Republicans would try to override the veto. However, because the provisions were tucked into a budget bill, it's not clear that GOP leaders have the necessary two-thirds majorities in both chambers — though they would if all Republicans were present and voted yes.

“We try to give all options available to support our border, support our fellow states and make sure our nation’s safe," said House Majority Leader Chris Croft, a Kansas City-area Republican.