Texans Still Eyeing Top Spots in Trump Administration

State & Regional

President-elect Donald Trump was back to his closed-door meetings on Monday to fill out his cabinet.

The return to the revolving door of meetings and jobs interviews at Trump Tower has left some Texans out in the cold.

Dr. Ben Carson will be nominated as the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Trump transition team announced Monday.

Carson was set to replace a Texan. Former mayor of San Antonio Julián Castro serves as the HUD secretary in President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

Carson reportedly turned down a different position in Trump’s cabinet before accepting the HUD nomination.

According to one of Carson’s aides, the neurosurgeon turned down an offer for the position of Health and Human Services secretary due to his lack of experience running a federal agency.

In a statement out Monday, Trump said, “Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”

Trump doubled down on key campaign promises during his first big speech to supporters since winning the election.

“We will finally end illegal immigration,” Trump said in Ohio Thursday night. “We will construct a great wall at the border.”

A Texan could help Trump fulfill those promises as the head of Homeland Security.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, was rumored to be on the shortlist of possible picks for the Department of Homeland Security Secretary.  

Since Texas makes up the majority of the U.S. – Mexico border, political consultant David Butts said it makes sense for Texans to take on that role.

The current chairman of the house homeland security committee, McCaul is facing criticism from some illegal immigration opponents.

Critics, citing McCaul’s congressional record, argue the Austin-based Republican is not tough enough on immigration.

“If Rep. McCaul is chosen to head DHS, he will need to take a much more expansive view of border and immigration enforcement than he has in the past,” Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Texas political consultant David Butts said it’s important to note that McCaul stuck by Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign.

For the job that could help Trump follow through on those promises to build a wall and deport millions of people in the country illegally, a Texan is one of the candidates up for consideration.

“Trump will probably not care whether or not his record has been soft on immigration as long as he’s going to adhere to what Trump wants to do,” Butts said.

He also said Trump will set the tone for the policies his administration will enact.

McCaul pushed an op-ed on Fox News’ website to address the mounting criticism Friday.

“We are going to build the wall. Period,” McCaul wrote.  He also has a plan to make Mexico pay for the wall. 

McCaul proposed new immigration fees Mexico and a “security toll” at border crossings.

Texans struck out on two cabinet positions last week.

Trump passed on U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling of Dallas for Treasury Secretary and former Texas Governor. Rick Perry for Commerce Secretary.

Butts said, “Governor Perry will probably wind up with some sort of position in the Trump administration. It just may not be a marquee position.”

Perry met with the President-elect at Trump Tower in New York City two weeks ago. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz did the same a week earlier, but Butts doesn’t see Cruz as part of the Trump administration.

“It seems to be a string of very wealthy people who are getting some of the plum positions,” Butts said.

Trump defended the wealthy cabinet picks he’s made so far as people who know “how to make money.”

Trump told supporters, “I’ve been honest. I said I am going to be putting on the greatest killers you’ve ever seen.”

The Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is still in the mix for Agriculture Secretary along with Perry.

Butts said he wouldn’t be surprised if Trump looks to Texas to fill the Secretary of Energy position but added, “I’m not sure that’s the best thing for the environment.”

Even if Texans don’t take some of the top spots in the Trump administration, Butts said Texas Republicans are in position to play a big role, shaping policies in congress. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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