Greg Abbott’s ‘Backing The Blue’ Pledge, And An End To Extra Unemployment Benefits

This week in Texas politics with The Texas Tribune.

By Rhonda Fanning & Caroline CovingtonSeptember 11, 2020 1:31 pm,

It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with Alex Samuels, political reporter for The Texas Tribune.

Millions of unemployed Texans will soon lose benefits that have been paid by the federal government because of the pandemic. About 1.8 million unemployed Texas have been receiving an extra $300 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. But Samuels said FEMA recently told the Texas Workforce Commission that those payments will stop after claims from last week are paid.

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texas politicians to reject police department budget cuts through his “backing the blue” pledge announced on social media. It was a response to police budget cuts most notably by Austin and Dallas city councils. City leaders reevaluated police budgets after recent widespread protests against systemic racism and police brutality against Black Americans and other people of color. Last week, Abbott said he was considering a proposal for legislation that would allow the Texas Department of Public Safety to take over the Austin Police Department.

“The governor ultimately proposed that lawmakers pass a bill next year that would permanently cut annexation power from cities that defund their police departments,” Samuels said.

(Read more about the mayor of Austin’s response to Abbott’s pledge.)

Democrats are focusing on a congressional race in Texas’ 24th District near Dallas as a possible sign of “hope” for their party’s success in November. Samuels wrote about Democrat candidate Candace Valenzuela for the Tribune. She’s running to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, and Samuels said “seemingly overnight, she’s become the face of Democrat’s optimism for 2020.”

Samuels said Valenzuela was considered an underdog only months ago. If elected, she would be the first Black Latina in Congress.

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