Cruz and Cornyn Make Pitch for Texas to Land New Amazon Headquarters: Your Daily Roundup
Plus: U.S. Representative Al Green moves to impeach President Trump, Beto O’Rourke tries to close the fundraising gap with Ted Cruz, and the EPA approves a plan to clean up the San Jacinto waste pits.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I am disappointed that most members of the Texas congressional delegation have agreed to go ahead and vote for this bill, from what I know at this time, when Texas needs this money. It appears the Texas delegation will let themselves be rolled by the House of Representatives.”
—Governor Greg Abbott to the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a hurricane relief package on Thursday, which seems unlikely to include around $18.7 million that Abbott had requested be set aside specifically for Harvey victims. The governor called out the Texas congressional delegation, urging the representatives to get the “stiff spine they need to fight for their fellow Texans.”
With just about every city in Texas joining a host of metro areas across the nation in the competition to land Amazon’s new headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn made their best pitch for the Lone Star State. “Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes our economy, our skilled workforce, and our quality of life,” the senators wrote in a letter Wednesday to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to The Hill. “Texas boasts the ideal combination of a talented and highly skilled workforce, limited government, low taxes, and world-class educational institutions. As a result, large multinational corporations and even small start-ups are relocating to, or launching their endeavors in Texas. Amazon is among the many diverse businesses that have recently taken interest in Texas.” HQ2 is expected to create up to 50,000 jobs, and proposals are due on October 19. Many Texas cities, from Austin, Dallas, and Houston to El Paso and Frisco, have worked toward making a bid, though San Antonio dropped out of the running on Wednesday. “Blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg wrote in a joint letter sent Wednesday to Bezos, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s hard to imagine that a forward-thinking company like Amazon hasn’t already selected its preferred location. And if that’s the case, then this public process is, intentionally or not, creating a bidding war amongst states and cities.” Amazon has a detailed wish list for its new HQ2 city, including massive tax breaks to subsidize the project.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
U.S. Representative Al Green, a Democrat from Houston, introduced formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on the House floor on Wednesday, according to the Texas Tribune. He didn’t get enough support from his own party after reading the impeachment papers, so he didn’t appear back on the House floor to call the resolution to a vote. Green later told reporters that he wanted to give his fellow members of Congress additional time to review the resolution before a vote, though some House Democrats told the Tribune that Green was actively pressured to stop his impeachment plans. As the Washington Post notes, some House Democrats want to let ongoing investigations into Trump’s campaign and administration resolve before moving to impeach. According to the Washington Post, the GOP was more than happy to schedule a vote—so they could kill it. Green apparently wants to impeach Trump as soon as possible, though. “[Trump] has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute onto the presidency, has betrayed his trust as president to the manifest injury of the people of the United States of America, and as a result is unfit to be president,” Green said, according to the Tribune. “He warrants impeachment, trial, and removal from office.”
U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke has nearly matched Senator Ted Cruz in fundraising from July to September, according to the El Paso Times. The El Paso Democrat officially launched his campaign for Cruz’s Senate seat in March, and so far he’s the only Democrat with any shot to beat Cruz in 2018. He raised $1.7 million in the past three months. Cruz raised $2 million during that same span, giving him a total war chest of $6.4 million. O’Rourke has far less—a total of $2.8 million—but managed to out-raise Cruz during his first reporting period of the campaign in June, collecting nearly $2.1 million to Cruz’s $1.6 million. Texans gave 76 percent of contributions to O’Rourke’s campaign so far, and the congressman has said he doesn’t accept money from Political Action Committees. “Unlike nearly every single other campaign in the country, we don’t take PAC money and are 100 percent focused on Texans, our communities across the state and the things we can do together to make Texas better,” O’Rourke said in a statement announcing the fundraising report.
The Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan on Wednesday to clean up the San Jacinto Waste Pits, a Superfund site in the Houston area. (A Superfund site poses a threat to human health because of contamination by hazardous waste, as identified by the EPA.) Runoff from a paper mill in the 1960s packed the waste pits full of toxic sludge—including the known carcinogen dioxin—leading activists to push for the permanent removal of toxins from the pits for years, according to the Houston Press. Decades later, the EPA “discovered” the waste pits in 2005 and turned it into a Superfund site, designated for cleanup by 2008. The federal agency’s new cleanup plan includes installing cofferdams (watertight enclosures) to prevent release of the pollutants before excavating and removing more than 200,000 cubic yards of dioxin-contaminated material, according to the Houston Chronicle. Two weeks ago, the EPA confirmed that a concrete cap placed on the pits in 2011 sprung a leak during Harvey flooding, and an EPA dive team found dioxin in sediment near the pit at a level over 2,300 times the EPA’s standard for clean-up. EPA head Scott Pruitt visited the site soon after, and decided to move up his decision on the proposed clean-up plan, which had been pending for about a year. It’ll cost about $115 million.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
West continues to deal with the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in 2013 Washington Post
A student stirred up controversy by waving a Trump flag at a high school football game in Bastrop Austin American-Statesman
Testimony began in the first trial of the Twin Peaks biker gang shootout case Waco Tribune-Herald
A monument to Jefferson Davis was defaced in Brownsville McAllen Monitor
Border Patrol agents found a dead body in a truck after it was impounded at the Falfurrias checkpoint Corpus Christi Caller-Times