QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think the House will outperform rather than underperform, but call me an optimist at this stage.”
—Governor Greg Abbott to Sergio Sanchez and Tim Sullivan on 710 AM KURV in the Rio Grande Valley on Monday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Abbott seems to have high hopes for the special session of the Texas Legislature—for now, at least.
Cruzin’ On Up
President Donald Trump is reportedly exploring the possibility of getting rid of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and his team of advisers has floated Senator Ted Cruz as a possible replacement, according to the Washington Post. The Post‘s anonymous sources said some Trump associates see ousting Sessions as part of a strategy to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia during the 2016 election. Trump continues to publicly hammer Sessions, calling him out in a tweet Monday morning as “our beleaguered A.G.” and asking why he isn’t “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations.” Even if Sessions does depart the Department of Justice, and Trump wanted Cruz as his replacement, it’s unclear whether Cruz would want the gig. In a statement to the Post on Monday, Cruz said he is “deeply gratified that we have a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions serving as Attorney General. The stories being reported in the media tonight are false. My focus is and will remain on fighting every day to defend 28 million Texans in the U.S. Senate.” This isn’t the first time Cruz’s name has come up as a potential fit for AG—in November, shortly after Trump won the election, Cruz was reportedly on Trump’s shortlist of candidates for the job before Sessions was nominated.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Officials confirmed on Monday the death of a tenth person after dozens of immigrants were found trapped in the back of a hot trailer in a San Antonio Walmart parking lot over the weekend, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Meanwhile, more details have emerged about what police are calling a “horrific” human trafficking incident. The driver, 60-year-old James Bradley Jr., appeared in federal court on Monday on a charge for transporting immigrants who are in the country illegally—he faces life in prison or the death penalty due to a law that calls for stronger punishment should immigrants die during a smuggler’s operation. According to court documents, smugglers told the immigrants the truck would be refrigerated. It wasn’t. “People began hitting the trailer walls and making noise to get the driver’s attention,” the complaint said. “The driver never stopped. People had a hole in the trailer wall to provide some ventilation and they started taking turns breathing from the hole.” Bradley told police he didn’t know anyone was in the trailer. Twenty-five of the known passengers in the trailer were Mexican citizens, and one of the survivors told authorities that some in the group were helped across the border by smugglers from the Zetas cartel.
Foot In Mouth
U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, recently told a radio host that he would’ve challenged female lawmakers who opposed repealing Obamacare to a duel, if only they were men from South Texas. “The fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me,” Farenthold told his local radio host Bob Jones on Friday, according to the Texas Tribune. “Some of the people that are opposed to this, there are female senators from the Northeast… If it was a guy from South Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.” The comment put Farenthold in the Internet’s cross hairs after the news broke Monday, and the blowback was so bad that he was apparently trending on Twitter in the D.C. area. “Like the President, I am sick and tired of the left-wing biased media trying to make something out of nothing,” Farenthold, who infamously once wore duck-print pajamas to a costume party fundraiser and was then photographed posing with a lingerie model, wrote on Facebook on Monday. “This was clearly tongue in cheek. That being said, I’m extremely frustrated with Senate Republicans who are breaking their promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Texas moved a little closer toward figuring out its troublesome maternal mortality problem on Monday, when the state Senate tentatively approved a bill that would allow a state task force more time to study why so many Texas mothers are dying less than a year after giving birth to children. According to the Texas Tribune, Senate Bill 17 would keep the state’s Task Force on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity going until 2023. The task force started in 2013, and has found that from 2011 and 2012, 189 Texas mothers died less than a year after their pregnancy ended, mostly from heart disease, drug overdoses, or high blood pressure. A study released last summer showed Texas’s maternal mortality rates nearly doubled between 2010 and 2014, prompting task force members to push lawmakers to give them more time to look into the issue. The bill didn’t pass during the regular session, and it still needs to get final approval from the Senate before it goes before the House.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
A look at migration patterns in Texas KENS-5
The Washington Post editorial board calls on Texas to “stop trying to pass this bathroom bill” Washington Post
A Dallas ballet dancer was mysteriously shot and killed WFAA
A man told Austin police that he targeting his assault victim because she was transgender Austin American-Statesman
Police arrested a Baptist preacher from The Woodlands in a prostitution sting KTRK