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The Brief: Jan. 7, 2011

For some, the enemy of their enemy legislation may be their friend.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

For some, the enemy of their enemy legislation may be their friend.

On Thursday, five days away from the start of the 82nd legislative session in Texas, unlikely allies stood together at the Capitol to denounce pre-filed Arizona-style immigration bills that they said would violate the rights of immigrants, hurt Texas business and do little to improve border security.

Those in attendance, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reported, included the Texas American Civil Liberties Union and two of its presumptive foes: the Texas Association of Business and El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles, who joked, “Who would imagine that after 28 years of law enforcement the ACLU would be talking so nicely about me?”

Bill Hammond, executive director of the business group, also noted the seemingly incongruous alliance. "Most Republicans are favoring this type of legislation, and they're our traditional friends — that's not a secret," Hammond said, according to the Austin American-Statesman. "It's our hope they will … slow down, take a hard look at the long-term impact on Texas before they enact this legislation."

Wiles — who said state enforcement of federal immigration policy, as such bills propose, would stretch his forces thin — and the business group were joined in support by a number of other organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Texas Residents United for a Stronger Texas and the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance.

And this isn't the first time we've seen foes forge unlikely friendships recently. As Ben Philpott of the Tribune and KUT News reported earlier this week, for instance, one progressive think tank, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, has expressed support for an increase in the sales tax, which is considered regressive because it disproportionately affects low-income individuals.

Finding strange bedfellows, in other words, might not be too hard this session.

CULLED:

  • Talk about getting off to a good start: Republicans in the U.S. House discovered Thursday that two of their members — including Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions — had cast several votes without being sworn in. Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., were instead attending a reception during the ceremony and watched the swearing-in on a TV screen there — but that didn't past muster, officials said. The two later got their own private swearing-in, and Democrats wasted no time in pillorying the party that this week pushed for a reading of the Constitution on the House floor: "Republicans have spent a lot of time over the past two days proselytizing about House rules, but they don't seem very keen on actually following the rules," said Jennifer Crider of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee , according to The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Texas Forensic Science Commission will hear from arson experts today in the continuation of its long-delayed review of the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who some allege was convicted using faulty evidence.

"We're in uncharted waters."House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, who was forced to recess his committee Thursday to determine how to deal with the two congressmen who had voted without taking their oaths of office

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