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Senate Passes $15 Billion Harvey Aid Package: Your Texas Roundup

Plus: A Robert E. Lee statue will be taken down in Dallas, first responders sue Arkema for chemical exposure, and a Texas lawmaker is a leading candidate to head Trump’s Department of Homeland Security.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY


“People are hurting down here. But as one Texan put it, we’ve got more love in Texas than water.”

—George W. Bush, according to CBS News. Bush joined every other living president in a television ad launched Thursday night that urges Americans to donate toward the relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey.


BIG NEWS


People make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

Scott Olson/Getty

Harvey Help
The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Thursday doubling the size of the Harvey aid package passed by the House the day before, bringing the total dollar amount up to $15 billion, according to the Associated Press. Although there were concerns the package’s tie to the contentious debt ceiling extension debate would make it stall in the Senate, lawmakers wasted little time making a deal, voting 80-17 to send the package back to the House for a final vote on Friday. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill, so a lot of financial aid from the feds should be on its way to Texas and other areas affected by Harvey pretty soon. Still, according to the AP, some Republicans are a little upset that they were out-maneuvered by Trump and Senate Democrats, who came to a behind-the-scenes agreement that allowed the aid package and debt ceiling extension measure to pass. On Wednesday, Trump supported a short-term debt limit increase backed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, which would end the threat of a government shutdown next month by ensuring government agencies will be funded through December 8. According to the AP, this is just the first installment in a recovery and rebuilding package for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Irma is currently rolling toward Florida and the Atlantic Coast and could end up exceeding Hurricane Katrina’s $110 billion cost to taxpayers.


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Monument Men
A day after issuing a temporary injunction, favoring a group suing to save a Robert E. Lee monument from being torn down in Dallas, a federal judge has given the city the green light to remove the Confederate monument, according to the Dallas Morning News. After Dallas City Council voted nearly unanimously on Wednesday to remove the statue, work crews had the 14-foot, 81-year-old sculpture of Lee and an unnamed soldier wrapped in a harness, trying to figure out the best way to get rid of it, when U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater issued a temporary restraining order blocking its removal. But Dallas resident Hiram Patterson and the Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans—the group who filed the initial complaint to stop the removal—didn’t have long to savor their legal victory. Fitzwater dissolved the temporary restraining order the next day. City officials told the Morning News the statue will be removed sometime soon, probably within the next few days.

Bad Blood
Arkema is facing a lawsuit from seven first responders who allege the company owes them $1 million in damages after they were injured following exposure to chemicals in the company’s flooded chemical plant in Crosby. The suit, filed on Thursday in Harris County, accuses Arkema of gross negligence after parts of the plant ignited and spewed toxic fumes on August 31, following fooding from Harvey. According to the Houston Chronicle, the suit alleges that, despite having knowledge of what flooding does to the plant and knowing that Harvey was coming, Arkema “ignored the foreseeable consequences of failing to prepare,” leaving trailers of volatile chemicals vulnerable to explosion after flooding took out the plant’s electricity and ability to cool the heat-sensitive chemicals. “Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosions, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road,” the lawsuit claims. “The scene was nothing less than chaos. Police officers were doubled over vomiting, unable to breathe.” According to the New York Times, a total of 21 first responders have been treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation and nausea.

Hometown Homeland
U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Austin, is the leading candidate to take over as the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to Politico. This isn’t the first time a Texan has been floated as a candidate for that role—Rick Perry was thought to be in the running after the job was vacated following John Kelly’s role shift from DHS head to White House chief of staff—and McCaul himself was in the mix when President Donald Trump initially searched for someone to fill the role. The job’s been vacant since July, but according to Politico, Hurricane Harvey and the upcoming Hurricane Irma have given the White House increased urgency in filling the opening. McCaul worked closely with the White House as it responded to Harvey, and was on the ground in Texas to greet the president on the tarmac when he touched down here last week. “People familiar with his thinking” told Politico that McCaul is “eager to serve” in the Trump administration.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

Here’s what assistance is available for Harvey victims Texas Tribune

Nearly two dozen people remain missing in Houston after Harvey New York Times

After Harvey canceled games, two high school football teams plan on an impromptu renewal of their rivalry Galveston Daily News

Aggie football coach Kevin Sumlin received a racist, threatening letter in the mail ESPN

A geophysicist says Harvey’s rains caused Houston to sink by two centimeters Associated Press

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  • Mark Machado

    Erasing history seems to be the thing to do nowa days….

    • José

      Perhaps you’re right. A simpler solution would be to add a plaque with factual and relevant background information, explaining that the monument was installed by white citizens to honor a soldier who took arms against his country for the purpose of perpetuating a barbarous practice of enslaving and torturing people based on the color of their skin.
      We can add that this memorial to the traitors, who considered Negroes to be subhuman, remains today only because their modern days supporters are vehemently against identity politics. LOL dude.

      • Jed

        don’t forget to mention when the monument was erected, likely almost a century after the actual events being commemorated, with the timing more closely coinciding with some newer episode of the culture war (“culture war” = whites employing state-sanctioned force against the descendants of their former slaves and any wave of immigration that came to the US later than their own families).

        • José

          The statue was raised in 1936 so I figured it was somehow associated to the big Texas Centennial in Dallas that year. But here’s an article with a cool fact that’s sure to be of interest to Confederacy apologists. The statue was dedicated by a well known liberal Democrat, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I guess any government works project was acceptable during the Depression.
          https://tclf.org/landscapes/robert-e-lee-park-tx

          • Jed

            i think fdr was the last time anybody spent money on our state park system.

            there is s**t on the bathroom walls that dates to eisenhower.

      • Mark Machado

        People are always going to be offended. That is never going to change.

        So put up a statue of whatever person is the flavor of the moment next to the Confederate statue or in the next park over or wherever you want really. Sure today that statue would be of some social justice warrior. In years to come I have no doubt peoples perception of things will change again and they will look back at that statue and wonder does that person really deserve a statue? I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t want to see it removed and could come up with a list of reasons why removing it would be wrong.

        It was a Civil War. The bloodiest war in American history. The people that were killed were fellow Americas not some outside invading force. Moms. Dads, Brothers, Sisters relatives of America. People in the South mourned the lost of loved ones with these statues. It is a complicated issue and there is no easy answer. I don’t believe the answer is to remove these historical monuments from public view without debate and wipe the memory of those people away though.

        • José

          You’re right, “flavor of the month” monuments are pretty dumb. Yet that’s exactly how these Confederate memorials were put there. Maybe you ought to drop that silly argument.

          The Civil War IS a complicated subject. Putting up a monument honoring someone who fought against our country and leaving it at that with no explanation is a terrible way to handle it, yet that’s the only way that you find acceptable. Why is that? Something needs to change. Either we present these historical figures with an honest explanation of who they are and what they did, or we remove these intentionally one-sided and misleading works of public propaganda that glorify the defenders of slavery.