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The Brief: March 22, 2010

As the inboxes of reporters across the nation pinged with the sound of press releases, Congress got rowdy last night and passed healthcare legislation with a 219-214 vote in the House. Here's a digest of the Texas highlights.

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As the inboxes of reporters across the nation pinged with the sound of press releases, Congress got rowdy last night and passed healthcare legislation with a 219-214 vote in the House.

A digest of the Texas highlights:

Eleven members of the 32-strong Texas delegation voted for the bill — all Democrats. (No Republicans voted for the measure).

Chet Edwards, D-Waco, was the only Texas Democrat to oppose the bill. One of the 34 Ds who voted no, Edwards cited his own concerns and “those of the vast majority of people in my district.” The GOP has high hopes that district will turn red in November.

A Democrat who waited until the last minute to make his decision, Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, cast his vote in favor of reform, saying “the cost of inaction is far greater than the investment for these reforms.” Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, took to Fox Business News to express his displeasure: “It’s just wrong policy, bad economic policy, bad moral policy, bad constitutional law.”

Pete Sessions, R- Dallas, said Congress’ decision to “ram their government takeover of healthcare down the throats of the American people will come at a steep political cost in November.” The National Republican Congressional Committee Chariman also took a break from the floor to lend some support to the sometimes slur-slinging protestors on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol — he brought them hand-lettered signs that spelled "K-I-L-L T-H-E B-I-L-L.”  For more reaction from Texas leaders, go here.

Stateside, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced after the legislation passed that he would join other states in challenging the law’s constitutionality, saying that it “unconstitutionally infringes upon Texans' individual liberties.” He posted to his Facebook page late Saturday night that he had already had “a strategy call with other AGs,” and “briefed Texas congressional members who share our concerns with this bill.” Thirty-seven states have legislation pending that would require the AGs to sue the feds if their residents are forced to buy health insurance. Most constitutional law experts agree that's more bark than bite, since federal law trumps state.

Then there’s that Texan who may have pulled a Joe Wilson. A member of the GOP with a “southern accent,” sitting in the Texas and California areas, shouted “baby killer” as Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, called on Democrats to reject a Republican amendment on abortion services. Joe Barton, R-Arlington/Ennis, played it coy, saying he could “make a guess” as to who shouted it. Louie Gohmert, R- Tyler, also said he wasn’t sure of the congressman’s identity, adding, “Whoever said it was obviously upset, but it was inappropriate for them to yell that.”


· Bill White released his 2009 tax returns Friday, revealing he made just over $700,000. But the former Houston mayor still refused to hand over returns from the previous five years, saying they contain proprietary information about his business partnerships. The move wasn’t enough to quell attacks from Perry camp, who continues to say voters deserve to know “how much money Bill White made while in Washington serving in the Clinton administration and during his time as mayor of Houston.”

· “Small ‘l’ libertarians” from the GOP like Ron Paul and Debra Medina, have been a mixed blessing for the state Libertarian party, according to Harris County Chair Guy McLendon. He says the party will begin to focus on nonpartisan offices because it’s so difficult to get elected as a libertarian— for one thing, state law prevents voters who took to the polls in either the Democratic or Republican primary to vote in the Libertarian convention, where the party chose its candidates last Saturday.

· State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, was charged for driving while intoxicated Thursday night. He spent the night in Travis County jail and was released in the morning on a bond; in a written statement, Rodriguez said he “wanted to be as open and up-front as possible to the public” about the incident.

 “The term ‘spillover’ would, at least in my eyes, seem to be a bit of a false dilemma. You speak of ‘spillover’ as if you had the pristine waters of Alaska contaminated by the spill of the Exxon Valdez. That is, there was nothing there before the Exxon Valdez created the accident.” — Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, responding to U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn’s letter to the White House on violence crossing the border from Mexico to Texas.


Same mud can be slung by both Perry and WhiteHouston Chronicle

Budget cuts may hinder Texas' regulatory agencies, could cost consumers millionsFort Worth Star-Telegram

Perry, UT received large donations from Triton CEOAustin American-Statesman

For Foreign Service workers in Mexico, Juárez slayings stress the increasing danger in drug warDallas Morning News

Liz Carpenter, Journalist, Feminist and Johnson Aide, Dies at 89The New York Times

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