A top Texas conservative, Dan Patrick, has been called away from his duties overseeing the opening of the state’s legislative session for a meeting at the White House.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick headed Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Texas and his trip to Washington comes as the president prepares to address the nation on the partial government shutdown sparked by a fight over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson opened the Texas Senate session in Patrick’s place Tuesday and said he went to Washington for a meeting on issues “critical to Texas.” Nelson didn’t elaborate, saying only: “When the White House calls you to go to Washington, you go.”

Patrick’s spokesman Alejandro Garcia did not provide additional detail about whether Patrick will accompany Trump to the border on Thursday. Garcia would only say that Patrick was expected to be back in Texas on Wednesday.

While Patrick is missing the first day, he is not missing key votes. The first day of the session is generally reserved for ceremonial addresses and the swearing in of new members of the Senate, according to Houston Chronicle.

Patrick has been one of Texas’ top proponents of strict immigration and border security policies.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, center at microphone, takes part in a Texas Latino Education Coalition news conference on the steps of the Texas State Capitol before the opening of the 86th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, center at microphone, takes part in a Texas Latino Education Coalition news conference on the steps of the Texas State Capitol before the opening of the 86th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Visitors and guests line up in the rotunda of the Texas State Capitol to enter the House Chamber for the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Visitors and guests line up in the rotunda of the Texas State Capitol to enter the House Chamber for the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Visitors and guests enter the House Chamber at the Texas State Capitol for the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Visitors and guests enter the House Chamber at the Texas State Capitol for the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Source: The Associated Press

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