The Brief: Top Texas News for July 11, 2013

The Big Conversation

As strict new abortion measures advanced in Texas, attention shifted briefly to Washington, where the fate of immigration reform was thrown into question.

In Austin on Wednesday, the state House gave final approval to the omnibus abortion legislation still in the national spotlight. After a dramatic day of impassioned floor debate on Tuesday, when the bill won initial approval, the vote on Wednesday came amid far less fanfare, save for a handful of protesters in the gallery who were arrested for disrupting proceedings.

A Senate committee will hear the legislation today, meaning the bill will likely reach the Senate floor as soon as Friday.

Meanwhile, immigration was thrust into the spotlight on Wednesday after Republicans in the U.S. House publicly rejected the sweeping reform bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate. 

After a closed-door strategy meeting with the GOP conference, top House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, said their members would not vote for the Senate version of the bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Instead, they said, Republicans would push for incremental fixes that would first address many conservatives' top immigration-related concern: border security.

The announcement came in spite of warnings from Boehner that inaction on immigration would hurt the House GOP. Still, Boehner repeated his pledge that he would not bring any bill to the floor without support from a majority of his caucus.

The announcement also came the same day former President George W. Bush, speaking at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential library in Dallas, urged a "positive resolution" to the immigration debate.

House Republicans' public display of mounting resistance, however, confirmed speculation that — as Politico reported earlier this week — comprehensive immigration reform may be headed toward a slow death this year.

Culled

•    Sen. Davis concedes defeat on abortion legislation (WFAA-TV): "Despite temperatures in the 90s and the setting sun heating up the crowd, almost 1,500 pro-choice supporters rallied at the Stand With Texas Women bus tour in Fort Worth Wednesday night. The abortion bill they oppose faces a final vote in less than 48 hours. But the woman at the center of the opposition, State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), said at least as far as the legislation goes, the fight is over. 'I think it is,' Davis conceded to News 8. 'I do believe it will immediately be followed by legal action to [prevent] the enforcement of the law.' … Democrats could break quorum this week and leave the state to prevent a vote on the bill. … But Davis told News 8 that maneuver is not under consideration this time."

•    Abbott Adds $4.78 Million to War Chest (The Texas Tribune): "Attorney General Greg Abbott, who already has the biggest war chest in Texas politics, raised a record $4.78 million in the last two weeks of June, campaign officials said Wednesday. … Earlier Wednesday, state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, who is eyeing the attorney general’s office, announced that his campaign was adding heavily to its war chest. 'Thanks to our generous supporters for helping us reach over $4 million on hand without any loans or debt,' Branch said in a post from his Twitter account."

•    Senate, House resolve differences in capital murder sentence for 17-year-olds (Austin American-Statesman): "A standoff between the Texas Senate and House over whether 17-year-old capital murder defendants should face life in prison without parole appeared to be resolved Wednesday, clearing the way for legislative approval of life with parole after months of dispute."

Quote to Note: "There have been efforts to turn Texas blue — over my dead political body." — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a radio interview with Laura Ingraham on Wednesday

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