Quick Takes

Kentucky Senate joins House in urging Beshear to back Texas governor at the border

By: - February 6, 2024 5:47 pm

An immigrant family wades through the Rio Grande while crossing from Mexico into the United States on Sept. 30, 2023 in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

FRANKFORT — Joining its House colleagues, the Kentucky Senate approved Tuesday its own resolution urging Gov. Andy Beshear to support Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s immigration crackdown at the Mexican border. 

Several Republicans spoke in favor of Resolution 123 before it was adopted by a voice vote. Democrats and GOP Sen. Whitney Westerfield, of Fruit Hill, expressed opposition to the resolution, calling it a “performative exercise” as it largely critiques only President Joe Biden rather than past administrations and the U.S. Congress. 

Kentucky Republicans lining up with Texas governor in border fight with Biden

“In no point of this resolution is there a condemnation of Congress after Congress after Congress after Congress after Congress who have ignored this problem, or worse … some are trying to save the problem due to the political liability for a candidate they don’t like,” said Westerfield, who is not running for reelection this November. “It’s an advantageous message for a candidate they do like, which is particularly cruel.”

Last week, the House adopted a similar resolution in a vote of 77-17.

Afterward, Beshear said Kentuckians are “exhausted with this constant ‘us-versus-them,’” and raised concerns that the GOP resolutions supporting Abbott “are based on a legal theory that was previously used to support secession.”

The Democratic governor also praised the 850 Kentucky National Guard members who have served at the southern border, saying they “answered the call of our country, not the clamor of the latest political outrage.” 

The Senate resolution’s primary sponsor, Harlan Republican Sen. Johnnie Turner, defended the need for the resolution by saying “there’s nothing more precious than your private right to private property” and Texans have that right. He added that he brought his wife to the U.S. and he “went through the process” after they met while he was serving in the military abroad. 

“What kind of nation are we if we don’t stand with Texas?” Turner asked his fellow senators. 

Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstong, D-Louisville, attempted to send the resolution to a committee for review before it was considered on the Senate floor but her motion failed after a voice vote. Turner had also sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 111, which used similar language to  his successful resolution. That had been assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Committee, but did not have a hearing before Tuesday. 

Senate Democratic Whip David Yates, of Louisville, said that as a member of his local city council, he saw resolutions forwarded to the General Assembly had little to no impact on lawmakers, and predicted the resolution would have a similar effect on the U.S. Congress. 

“This political play is divisive politics,” Yates said. “This is no good.” 

Resolutions like Kentucky’s have gained traction in other states. Ohio and West Virginia lawmakers passed their own versions within the past week. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, was initially among Senate Republicans working on a bipartisan border deal. However, he said the deal was dead Tuesday. The Republican presidential frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, had encouraged Republicans to abandon the deal so he can run on immigration issues in his reelection campaign.

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.