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Kansas GOP lawmakers’ initiative to help Texas secure the border fails as Kansas Gov. Kelly vetoes the effort

The Governor of Kansas, a Democrat, is stopping an effort by Republican state lawmakers to assign a “border mission” to the Kansas National Guard. This mission would support Texas in its ongoing dispute with President Biden’s administration regarding illegal immigration. Kansas House Republicans are now debating if they can gather enough votes — a two-thirds majority — to overturn Governor Laura Kelly’s recent veto of immigration measures included in the state’s upcoming budget. The Senate’s leading Republican has vowed to try for an override, but the House must vote on it first.

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On Wednesday, Governor Kelly vetoed a budget item that would have required her administration to collaborate with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, and deploy Kansas National Guard members or equipment to the border. This Republican-backed plan aimed to assist Texas in enforcing a state law that permits the arrest of migrants suspected of entering the U.S. illegally. She also rejected a budget line that allocated $15.7 million for this initiative.

Kansas Gov. Kelly is stopping an effort by Republican state lawmakers to assign a "border mission" to the Kansas National Guard to help Texas
Credit: Gov. Greg Abbot, X

Governor Abbott is currently embroiled in a legal fight with the Biden administration, which argues that border security is a federal responsibility, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution. In her veto message, Governor Kelly stated that border security is indeed a federal matter and indicated that the budget provisions overstepped into her authority as the commander in chief of the Kansas National Guard.

“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.”

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After their spring break, Kansas lawmakers resumed work on Thursday and plan to conclude their legislative session by next Tuesday. The Republican majority in Kansas has shown solidarity with Texas, similar to Republicans across the country. On Thursday, Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican from the Wichita area, stated that the $15.7 million Kansas intended to spend in support of Texas mostly symbolizes “moral support” for Texas’ larger initiative.

Masterson explained that under the state constitution, legislators have the power to issue directives to state agencies controlled by Governor Laura Kelly. He also commented that Governor Kelly’s alignment with the Biden administration means she is unlikely to take active steps to address this issue. Earlier in the year, both the Kansas House and Senate passed resolutions supporting Texas. Democrats have criticized the stance of the Texas governor as constitutionally dubious and causing a humanitarian crisis.

Kansas Gov. Kelly is stopping an effort by Republican state lawmakers to assign a "border mission" to the Kansas National Guard to help Texas
Credit: Gov. Greg Abbot, X

Masterson noted that Republicans will attempt to override Governor Kelly’s veto. However, since the immigration-related measures were included within a broader budget bill, it remains uncertain if GOP leaders can secure the necessary two-thirds majority in both legislative chambers, although they would achieve it if all Republican members were present and voted in favor.

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“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.

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