Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at a February press conference.

Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Gov. Greg Abbott told lawmakers Thursday evening that he would place the allocation of nearly $16 billion in federal funds for COVID-19 recovery on their plate during a special session in the fall.

Abbott already planned to call a special session later in the year for the Legislature to do its decennial redrawing of Texas political maps, which was delayed because of the Trump administration’s handling of the census. But the allocation of the federal COVID-19 relief funds adds another item to their to-do list and allows the Legislature to participate in the administration of those funds.

House members were notified of the plan in an email Thursday evening. In a statement to The Texas Tribune, Abbott congratulated lawmakers for crafting a “conservative and balanced budget that will secure a more prosperous future for Texas” that keeps “government spending under control.”

“As everybody knows, I will be calling a special session for redistricting in the fall, and have committed to Lt. Governor [Dan] Patrick, Speaker [Dade] Phelan, Chairs [Jane] Nelson and [Greg] Bonnen, and Vice Chairs [Eddie] Lucio and [Mary] Gonzalez that I will place the allocation of the nearly $16 billion in Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Relief federal funds on the same special call so the entire legislature can participate in the allocation process in a way that best serves all Texans,” the statement said.

Some lawmakers had criticized Abbott’s hold over federal funds while the Legislature was not in session.

This developing story will be updated.

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