The State of Texas: 120 Texas Companies Want To Build Trump’s Border Wall
Plus: Rex Tillerson’s reporter-less Asia trip stirs controversy, Texas teams take March Madness by storm, and the stars of last week’s bipartisan road trip sign each other’s bills.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This is part of a deep state that’s continuing to progress.”
—Former U.S. Representative Steve Stockman to a federal judge on Friday, according to the Houston Chronicle. The controversial ex-Texas congressman was charged with violating federal election laws for allegedly funneling charitable donations for his own personal use. Stockman blamed a shadow government conspiracy for his arrest. Yes, really.
Everybody Wants Some
As President Donald Trump moves forward on building the wall, companies in the wall-building business are licking their chops at the prospect of landing the gig. According to the Dallas Morning News, more than 700 companies have expressed interest in the federal government’s border wall postings, including 120 companies that are based in Texas. There is, of course, potential blowback: criticisms of the wall range from its impracticality to the argument that it would be inhumane to establish an unsurmountable physical barrier to keep out families who are fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries. Even the Pope said it would be “not Christian” for the U.S. to build the wall. But if these companies had any conscientious objections to the wall beforehand, then the $4.1 billion price tag revealed after last week’s release of Trump’s proposed budget plan must have swayed them. As the Morning News notes, the project would be a “builder’s dream.” The federal government’s contract proposals—which were posted in more detail on Friday—call for a wall that is up thirty feet tall and no shorter than eighteen feet, while it’d stretch six feet under ground to stop tunnelers and would be sturdy enough to withstand a 30-minute barrage of sledgehammers, pick axes and blow torches. Prospective construction companies are just about drooling over the plan. “The total amount of concrete will be massive,” the president of one Texas-based concrete company told the Morning News; “Whatever he [Trump] wants, he’s going to get,” said someone from another Texas construction company.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrapped up his six-day swing through Asia on Sunday, but he made more headlines for his controversial media blackout rather than what, if anything, he actually accomplished on the trip. According to the New York Times, Tillerson broke a nearly fifty year practice of bringing a bevy of State Department correspondents on the flight, instead choosing to bring just one reporter, from the conservative-leaning Independent Journal Review. “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it,” Tillerson admitted in an interview with the only member of the press who he allowed to join him on the trip (you can read the entire transcript on IJR’s website). Tillerson received widespread criticism for those comments almost immediately after the interview was published. A near media blackout is a strange choice for any official who earns a taxpayer-funded salary, but it’s especially odd for Tillerson, considering his role as the nation’s diplomatic voice would seemingly depend on keeping the world apprised of his daily activities. But nope, Tillerson apparently just wants to do the public’s business in private, perhaps taking a page from his secretive Exxon days.
March Madness has gone pretty well so far for Texas teams. Southern Methodist may have been upset by a tough USC squad in the first round of the men’s bracket, but Baylor managed to restore the balance of power between the Lone Star State and our bitter rival California in a tense second-round victory over the Trojans. The Bears were down by a bucket with just under five minutes left to play when Manu Lecomte, a Belgian guard who had yet to score in the game, dropped eight consecutive points in 46 seconds to propel Baylor to victory on Sunday, according to the Dallas Morning News. They’ll play South Carolina in the sweet sixteen this week. On the women’s side, number-one seed Baylor dominated poor Texas Southern on Saturday, 119-30, in the most lopsided women’s tournament game ever. Both Baylor and Texas A&M take the court Monday for the chance to make it to the sweet sixteen. The University of Texas women’s basketball team punched its ticket on Sunday after beating North Carolina State. The Longhorns erased a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win 84-80, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Texas Two Step
After last week’s cross-country “bipartisan road trip” made Texas Congressmen Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd the darlings of a divided America, the new BFFs showed the lessons they learned during their travels to Capitol Hill by signing each other’s bills on Friday, according to the Texas Tribune. O’Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, added his signature to Hurd’s American Law Enforcement Heroes Act, a collaborative effort with Senator John Cornyn that would enable police departments to hire more military vets. Hurd, a Republican from Helotes, became a co-sponsor of O’Rourke’s American Families United Act, which would give families of U.S. citizens who are forever banned from re-entering the country on a technical issue the chance to have their immigration cases heard before a federal judge. The buddies even exchanged gifts: Hurd gave O’Rourke a green tie for St. Patrick’s Day, while O’Rourke framed Hurd’s hand-drawn map of their original route through Nashville. Next up, friendship bracelets.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Texas neighbors, divided by what it means to be an American Washington Post
The deadly gray area of a no-knock police raid, as told through the stories of two Texans New York Times
A behind-the-scenes look at cops policing rowdy Port Aransas during spring break Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Headless chickens, money, and napkins keep showing up at an El Paso cemetery KTSM-TV
A Texas lawmaker wants to repatriate deported veterans McAllen Monitor