$2.3M request for supporting Missouri troops at border gets bipartisan support

(The Center Square) – Legislative leaders from both parties are supporting Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s request for $2.3 million to send Missouri National Guard troops and State Highway Patrol troopers to the southern border.

“I intend to vote for it at this point because I think it’s important to have some sort of response to the crisis at the border that the federal government has clearly punted on,” Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, told reporters during an end-of-week news conference on Thursday. “It’s sad that Republicans in Washington, D.C., have decided to punt on fixing the border crisis simply because it was proposed by a Democrat or President Biden, or that Democrats were involved in the process to fix this.”

Parson announced on Feb. 21 he will support Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star with 200 soldiers and 22 troopers and request the money in a supplemental appropriation.

Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Springs and a candidate for his party’s nomination for governor, said Missouri should stand with Texas and other states dealing with thousands of immigrants crossing the border.

“I’m supportive of continuing to work with those states when it comes to solving the border crisis, which was caused by the Joe Biden administration when they opened the border and caused this invasion to begin in the first place,” Eigel said. “… I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I suspect there’s going to be a lot of appetite in the Missouri Senate.”

House minority leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield and a candidate for her party’s nomination for governor, said her caucus won’t be united but will support the funding.

“I’m interested to see how the debate goes,” Quade said. “I do believe it will pass. You know, they’re sending them anyway, so this conversation is really about if we are going to pay for it or is that going to come out of the excess money we have? And I am always in support of us paying for what we’re doing as a government.”

Both Eigel and Quade expressed concern with sending troopers to the border.

“Our Missouri State Highway Patrol is understaffed,” Quade said. “We know that we’re short in that bucket and this is going to cost us a lot of money when we are, again, trying to fill these vacancies and pay folks more.”

Eigel emphasized the troopers should be focused on Missouri and the need for patrolling highways near the state’s two largest cities.

“I’d like to see those highway patrolmen working in the state of Missouri,” Eigel said. “I think that we have folks in the National Guard we can send down and share those resources with the state of Texas. But we’ve got a lot of things that we need the Highway Patrol to do here. I’ve talked extensively about moving Highway Patrol resources to the highways leading into and out of Kansas City and St. Louis so we can address some of the criminal activity that’s using those highways as a conduit to reach our suburbs and to reach into some of our rural areas.”

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