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The Brief: April 4, 2013

A marathon budget debate today may keep House lawmakers at the Capitol past midnight.

The House chamber below a mostly empty gallery during the final days of the special session on June 27, 2011.

The Big Conversation

A marathon budget debate today may keep House lawmakers at the Capitol past midnight.  

As the Tribune's Aman Batheja reports, the House will take up its $193.8 billion budget bill today at 9 a.m., and lawmakers have said they expect the debate over the bill's 267 proposed amendments to last until Friday morning.

"It’s going to be a long day," said state Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson. "The female reps, we were teasing each other that tomorrow’s the time we have to dress ugly but comfortable."

Amid relatively little drama, the state Senate last month passed its own budget proposal that puts less money into schools but more into health care than the House plan. 

Several of the 267 amendments are likely to inspire heated debate on the House floor. A group of freshman Republicans, for instance, has filed more than three dozen amendments that would eliminate several state programs by moving funding to the Teacher Retirement System’s retiree health insurance fund. (The Texas Retired Teachers Association says it isn't endorsing the Republicans' amendments.)

Debate could also erupt over Medicaid expansion, a major component of federal health care reform, as well as over abortion, women's health care and funding for gender and sexuality centers on college campuses.

A so-called conference committee will form later in the session to merge the House and Senate budget bills.


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