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The Brief: Jan. 3, 2013

The end of the "fiscal cliff" drama has provoked a round of hand-wringing among Texas Republicans in Congress.

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The Big Conversation:

The end of the "fiscal cliff" drama has provoked a round of hand-wringing among Texas Republicans in Congress.

In the wake of a deal that passed the U.S. House on Tuesday night with the support of only four of the state's 23-member GOP delegation, some Texas Republicans on Wednesday publicly aired their concerns about what the deal meant for the future of their party.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, some Republicans said the discord in their own party over the deal — on which even House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor split — had left the House GOP weakened for looming battles, including another fight over the debt ceiling.

"That’s not good when we’re going into a new administration, where we’re going to have to scratch and claw," U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, an Arlington Republican who voted against the fiscal-cliff bill, said on Wednesday.

"There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, starting today," Rep. Michael Burgess, a Lewisville Republican who also voted against the bill, told the Morning News. "There has to be a willingness to be pretty hard with those bargaining positions. … We’re going to have a debt limit fight. This story is not going to go away."

The bill, which won 85 Republican votes, faced opposition from conservatives who said it didn't include enough spending cuts. Anger among conservatives toward Boehner, though, appears unlikely to result in his ouster as speaker.

Still, that didn't stop one incoming Texas congressman from making such a threat on Wednesday.

"I will not vote for or support Congressman Boehner’s bid to remain Speaker of the House," Rep.-elect Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, said in a statement, adding, "Past Republican leaders, such as Tom DeLay, at least had the decency to directly tell you they were punishing you for voicing conservative principles."

Culled: 

  • The Texas Ethics Commission on Wednesday fined Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons' political action committee over illegal political donations. The PAC, created by the Simmons-owned Waste Control Specialists, received a $6,450 penalty for donating money to lawmakers before bringing in at least 10 contributors, as required by the state's election code. "We are disappointed in the meager size of the fine," Craig McDonald, director of the liberal watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, said in a statement. "Let’s all pray Simmons takes more care in handling atomic waste [than] he does in handling his campaign contributions."
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported on Wednesday that service-sector activity in Texas continued to rise in December, signaling that the state could expect continued growth in the new year. Manufacturers in the state also reported that they anticipated more growth in 2013.
  • To the relief of the wind-power industry, Congress on Tuesday voted to extend a crucial $12 billion incentive program as part of the "fiscal cliff" deal. But as the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports, some industry experts say the extension won't be enough to put the industry on firm ground. Debate over the extension came as Texas set a new record for wind power generation, on Christmas Day.

"This is not something I do lightly, but out of bedrock conservative principle and a dire need to save this nation from its current course." — U.S. Rep.-elect Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, in a statement saying he wouldn't vote to re-elect John Boehner as House speaker

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