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Chairman Arrington Leads Letter to Biden Administration Criticizing the Listing of Rio Grande Mussels as an Endangered Species

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (TX-19), House Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, M.D. (TN-07), House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Border Security Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36) and Rep. Andy Biggs (AZ-05) led a letter to President Biden and Secretary of the Department of the Interior Haaland inquiring about the July 25, 2023 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed rule to list the Salina mucket and the Mexican fawnsfoot mussels as endangered and designate a critical habitat for the species.

The Service has proposed nearly 300 river miles of critical habitat for the mussels along the border, an action which would impede Texas’ ability to protect the border and its citizens and prevent U.S. Border Patrol from accomplishing its mission of protecting the American people and safeguarding our borders.

“While Biden has failed to use federal powers to secure the border, he has no problem weaponizing the government to prevent states from doing so in his absence. Where was Biden's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s concerns when millions of migrants trampled the mussel’s “critical habitat” while illegally crossing the Rio Grande? Clearly, Biden is more concerned about disrupting the habitat of the Mexican mussels than disrupting the operations of Mexican cartels who are destroying the lives of Americans and migrants alike. Governor Abbott has the constitutional authority to secure the border and protect his citizens. He should pay no attention to Biden’s shell game,” said Chairman Arrington.

“Texas has been forced to protect and defend itself because President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas won’t secure the border. The Biden administration is spending more time and effort trying to keep Texas from defending its ranchers, farmers, and others living in border communities than it is trying to fix the problem. The fact that Biden is now using the existence of mussels in the Rio Grande as a reason to block Texas from keeping its river barrier system in place is utter horse hockey. What’s next, moss? The situation at the border has reached critical levels—these political games impede the ability to carry out vital border security. I’m proud to join Chairman Arrington in shedding light on this ridiculous action by the Biden administration,” said Chairman Green.

“If the Biden Administration is so concerned with the well-being of these mussel species, they should use their authority to combat the illegal crossings impacting the habitats of the species, rather than blocking the Governor of Texas’ efforts. I’m proud to lead this effort with Chairman Arrington to seek answers about the Administration’s latest politically motivated rule that only fuels the ongoing ecological, humanitarian, and national security crisis at the border,” said Chairman Westerman.

“The Biden administration’s convenient declaration of an environmental hazard in response to Governor Abbott’s floating barrier is undoubtedly political,” said Rep. Babin. “If the White House genuinely cared about the mussels growing in the Rio Grande, it would secure the border and stop the hundreds of thousands of illegals from trampling across the river – or maybe clean up the tons of trash illegal immigrants and smugglers leave behind each year. Instead of prioritizing our national security, the president has once again acted to further open our southern border and erode our sovereignty.”

“The Biden Administration’s proposed rule to designate new critical habitat and endangered species in the Rio Grande Sector to halt border barrier construction is a brazen attempt to further unsecure our nation’s southern border. The timing of this rule amid the creation of a new floating border barrier in Texas confirms the rule is politically motivated and likely legally dubious,” said Rep. Biggs. “I applaud Congressman Arrington’s latest efforts to help better secure our southern border and require the Biden Administration to answer Congress.”