Texas Legislature 2019

Dan Patrick misses first day of legislative session to help with President Donald Trump’s border wall address

His office said he'll be back in Texas on Wednesday.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks at the Republican Party of Texas convention in San Antonio on Friday, June 15, 2018.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks at the Republican Party of Texas convention in San Antonio on Friday, June 15, 2018.  Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

*This story was updated Wednesday to add comment from Patrick.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick missed the first day of the Texas Legislature on Tuesday to attend a last-minute border security meeting at the White House, where he helped with President Donald Trump's nationally televised address from the Oval Office and met with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

That message — in which Trump continued his long call for the construction of a border wall — came on day 18 of a partial shutdown, the long-running result of a stalemate over the wall.

Patrick, a staunch supporter of the president who served as the Texas chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential run, will also join Trump for a briefing in McAllen on Thursday, his office announced. Patrick has long been a vocal advocate of the border wall.

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"Texans see first-hand the tragedies that take place at our border every day," Patrick said in a statement late Tuesday. "I was in Washington today working with the president’s team on his historic first address to the nation from the Oval Office and I am committed to doing everything I can to help the president end this crisis."

But don't expect the lieutenant governor to head to Washington, D.C. more permanently.

"I've not been offered a job. I'm not going to take a job," Patrick said at an event Wednesday in response to rumors that the schedule change, finalized on Sunday, might position him well for a role in Trump's ever-changing cabinet. "End that rumor. That's crazy."

At the Texas Capitol, meanwhile, the lieutenant governor missed a day full of pomp and circumstance.

Patrick, who attended a pre-session social event Monday evening in Austin and is scheduled for two public addresses on Wednesday, “is not going to be able to join us today,” said state Sen. Jane Nelson, a Flower Mound Republican, who took the dais Tuesday afternoon in Patrick’s stead.

“He was called by the White House to discuss some issues that are critical to Texas,” Nelson told a Senate chamber full of lawmakers and their families. The leader of the upper chamber was sorry to miss swearing-in day, she said, but “when the White House calls you to Washington, you go.”

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A White House spokesman said Patrick "has been has been an important partner as we work to secure the southern border."

"He is at the White House today meeting with senior administration officials to continue that discussion as well as other shared priorities," spokesman Judd Deere added.

Although he was not in Austin Tuesday, Patrick congratulated Angleton Republican Dennis Bonnen on his election as speaker of the Texas House.

"Dennis is a principled and skilled leader, and I know he is ready to take on the tough challenges we are facing this legislative session. I look forward to working with him and I am confident our collaboration will lead to positive and bold public policy for the people of Texas and the future of our state," Patrick said.