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The Brief: Aug. 22, 2012

Texas Republicans on Tuesday scored big victories in two long-running legal fights.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, Gov. Rick Perry, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson and Department of Public Safety chief Steve McC…

The Big Conversation:

Texas Republicans on Tuesday scored big victories in two long-running legal fights.

In the latest turn in the battle between the state and Planned Parenthood, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday evening that Texas can remove Planned Parenthood from the state's Women's Health Program before a district court hearing begins in October. 

The ruling — which lifted an injunction that allowed Planned Parenthood to stay in the health program, which serves low-income women — means Texas can now enforce a Republican-backed state law banning Women's Health Program funding from going to Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood provides contraceptives and health screenings, but not abortions, to about half of the women enrolled in the program.

Attorney General Greg Abbott said the court "rightfully recognized that the taxpayer-funded Women's Health Program is not required to subsidize organizations that advocate for elective abortion. We are encouraged by today's decision and will continue to defend the Women's Health Program in court."

The appeals court's ruling came hours after another federal appeals court overturned controversial Environmental Protection Agency rules aimed at cutting power plant pollution that moves across state borders.

Top Republican politicians in Texas — who said the rule would hurt industry and the state's electric grid — applauded the ruling. "Vindicating the state’s objections to EPA’s aggressive and lawless approach, today’s decision is an important victory for federalism and a rebuke to a federal bureaucracy run amok," Abbott said in a statement.

The ruling marked the second recent legal defeat for the EPA, which an appeals court last week sided against over Texas' air permit program.

Culled:

  • Mitt Romney quietly swung through Texas on Tuesday for a series of fundraising events at which he was expected to collect at least $6 million. At a Houston luncheon, Romney offered a preview of the energy plan he said he would unveil in New Mexico next week. "I want to take advantage of oil, gas, coal, renewables, nuclear, all of the above in a very aggressive way," he said, according to the Houston Chronicle. Romney then attended fundraisers in Midland at the city's Petroleum Club, a venue Democrats on Tuesday used to try to link him to Big Oil.
  • Texas mandates that applicants for driver’s licenses or ID cards prove that they reside in the country legally. And as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports, some immigration lawyers and legal scholars say illegal immigrants offered deportation deferrals under the Obama administration's new federal program may qualify for such licenses.
  • U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has reached an agreement with Republican Party officials over delegate counts as next week's national convention approaches. According to The New York Times, Paul will receive 17 additional delegates from Louisiana, where Paul supporters had clashed with Mitt Romney supporters during the state's GOP convention, and several more delegates from Massachusetts. The Paul campaign has also expressed satisfaction with party leaders for including in the national platform a call to audit the Federal Reserve — Paul's signature issue.

"Re: Congressman Todd Akin, Gov. Palin: 'I'm suggesting that he get out.'" — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Twitter on Tuesday

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