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The Brief: June 19, 2013

The abortion wars flared anew Tuesday in both Texas and Washington.

Texas Capitol

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The abortion wars flared anew Tuesday in both Texas and Washington.

As Becca Aaronson reports, the state Senate on Tuesday night approved an omnibus bill tightening abortion restrictions in Texas. The legislation, which passed 20-10, largely along party lines, would require abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, change rules about admitting privileges for doctors who perform the procedure and require physicians who administer abortion-inducing drugs to do so in person.

The bill, which was filed after Gov. Rick Perry added abortion restrictions to the special session agenda, provoked a long but familiar debate. Republicans said the legislation would improve women's safety, while Democrats accused Republicans of impeding access to a legal procedure and pandering to GOP voters.

"Truly, this isn’t about making women safe," said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, adding, "It’s about political primaries and making sure you’re feeding the red meat of the people who will be voting in those primaries."

State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who filed the bill, said his goal "first and foremost, second and third, is to raise the standard of care."

The Senate vote came hours after the Republican-led U.S. House voted to ban abortion after 22 weeks — the strictest abortion measure heard by Congress in a decade, according to The New York Times. Given the Democratic U.S. Senate and president, the vote proved mostly symbolic.

Back in the Texas Senate, however, Hegar on Tuesday removed a similar 20-week provision from the omnibus bill. The surprise move suggested that he thought legislation without the controversial measure — which is based on contested science about when fetuses start to feel pain — would stand a better chance of passing before Tuesday, the last day of the special session.

"It appears to me at this point, this committee substitute seems the most practical and logical way for us to talk about standard of care, while also trying to protect innocent life," Hegar said. 

Culled

•    Rick Perry takes aim at New York (Politico): "Rick Perry stars in an ad out Wednesday that coincides with his swing across the Northeast to lure jobs to Texas. The one-minute, campaign-style video — shared first with POLITICO — attacks New York, where the governor is spending the day, as a high-tax, high-regulation state."

•    Senate Takes Step Toward Transportation Funding Fix (The Texas Tribune): "Despite concerns raised by both Republicans and Democrats, Texas senators on Tuesday tentatively passed a resolution that aims to solve the state's transportation funding woes by diverting future revenue from the Rainy Day Fund."

•    Immigration Law Changes Seen Cutting Billions From Deficit (The New York Times): "Congressional budget analysts, providing a positive economic assessment of proposed immigration law changes, said Tuesday that legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system would cut close to $1 trillion from the federal deficit over the next two decades and lead to more than 10 million new legal residents in the country."

•    Is Ted Cruz Lying Low? (National Review): "Since taking office in January, Senator Ted Cruz has earned a reputation for being one of the most unapologetically outspoken lawmakers on Capitol Hill. So much so, perhaps, that when it comes to the Gang of Eight’s immigration-reform bill, of which Cruz has been one of the strongest Republican critics, it might seem like he’s been taking it easy."

Quote of the Day: "It feels partisan and it’s misguided, as far as I’m concerned." — Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg on Gov. Rick Perry's veto of funding for her office

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