The 116th Congress is sworn in today, and the Texas delegation will feature many new faces.
Nine new Texans join the House of Representatives, replacing longtime lawmakers including Rep. Joe Barton of Arlington and Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio.
The new delegation to the House will be made up of 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats. It also includes the first two Latinas from the state: Democratic Representatives Sylvia Garcia from Houston, and Veronica Escobar of El Paso. Escobar spoke with the Texas Standard in December about what that designation means to her.
“What has been most meaningful for me about making history alongside Sylvia Garcia from Houston is that during this very xenophobic, anti-immigrant era under the Trump administration, it was the border that made history,” Escobar said. “And for me it’s symbolic because … it almost seems like the country is trying to send the antidote to the politics of negativity and division and hatred.”
Texas’ delegation to the U.S. Senate in this Congress – Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz – remains unchanged.
The partial shutdown of the federal government is now in its thirteenth day, and that’s meant a reduction in services offered at national parks, including Big Bend National Park in west Texas.
“Right now our campgrounds are all closed – and the backcountry is closed to overnight use,” says park chief ranger Lisa Hendy. “So basically there’s no place to stay overnight in the park – it is not legal to stay the night in the park right now – which is probably the message I need most out there.”
Visitors who are caught staying overnight will receive citations, and could be fined several hundred dollars.
“Essentially people are under the impression that no one is enforcing any of the rules. But that’s actually making our job a little harder,” Hendy says, “because folks that don’t like to obey the rules are attracted during those situations.”
The park is still open for day use, although some trails have been closed because of the shutdown.
After a near-scuffle with the University of Georgia’s bulldog before the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, University of Texas officials say it’s safe for the school’s live longhorn mascot to be at football games.
Bevo lunged toward Uga the Georgia bulldog during a pre-game mascot meetup, scattering the dog, its handler and assembled media.
No one was seriously injured, although video of the incident shows several people came close to being hurt by Bevo’s horns.
UT Athletics spokesman John Bianco said in a statement that “All of the established safety measures for Bevo at home and away football games were in place at the Sugar Bowl, and the handlers that are with him at all times are well-educated, trained, and did their job.”