Gov. Greg Abbott thanked President Joe Biden for declaring a federal emergency in Texas.
Texas' Republican Gov. Greg Abbott reached out to the White House on Saturday to request federal aid to combat brutal winter storms that are devastating the state.
Abbott has had a contentious relationship with the federal government he's now asked for assistance.
"I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state. This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that will help our communities respond to this winter weather," Abbott said.
On Monday, a frigid spell of single-digit weather and several inches of snow and ice left four million people in the state without power and killed two.
Earlier in the year, though, Abbott's attitude toward federal involvement in Texas was different.
On Jan. 28, he signed an executive order that instructed all state agencies to reject what he called "regulatory overreach in the energy sector" on the part of the Biden administration, using "all lawful powers and tools to challenge any federal action that threatens the continued strength and vitality of the energy industry."
The Austin American-Statesmen reported that Abbott was ready to sue the administration, quoting him as saying,
One thing that we are going to be doing is exactly what I did when I was attorney general in Texas and Barack Obama was the president of the United States, when President Obama was lodging challenge after challenge after challenge to the Texas energy sector. Texas will continue with that litigation strategy to fight back against any efforts by the Biden administration that threaten either the energy sector in general or jobs in the energy sector — in particular in the state of Texas.
When he was Texas' attorney general, Abbott sued the Obama administration dozens of times on the taxpayer dime, often combating environmental regulation. His successor, Attorney General Ken Paxton, has similarly taken on the federal government at every opportunity, waging a yearslong battle against Obamacare in the courts.
In 2018, Abbott said he would prioritize a Texas-only version of public health care if Obamacare were successfully overturned.
In January, he slammed the federal government once again, threatening to withdraw Texas National Guard troops from their assignment guarding President Joe Biden's inauguration when it was announced that members of the Guard assigned to the event would be vetted for potential ties with right-wing extremist groups.
He tweeted on Jan. 18, "This is the most offensive thing I've ever heard. No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard. I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC. I'll never do it again if they are disrespected like this."
Texas lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against providing federal relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast in 2012; those same politicians, along with Abbott, lobbied for federal relief for their own state in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Abbott has also been long criticized for his poor leadership in another emergency: the COVID-19 pandemic. He was among the first governors to reopen his state's economy as the coronavirus continued to spread, and he refused to lock down again as the number of new cases soared around Thanksgiving.
Abbott also used the pandemic to effectively shut down abortion access throughout Texas, in defiance of federal law, and was sued by Planned Parenthood. He also pushed for legislation to ban Planned Parenthood from the list of health care providers Medicaid recipients can see. When it succeeded, he gave some 8,000 Medicaid recipients who were seeing Planned Parenthood providers only 30 days to find new ones.
Yet in May, he asked Donald Trump for a major disaster declaration and federal funding to combat the coronavirus crisis in Texas.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.