Texas Republicans Question Obama on Zika Funding

Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) is joining the chorus of Texas Republicans in Washington accusing President Obama of holding back millions of dollars that the say could be immediately used to combat the Zika virus. U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), along with the rest of the members of Texas’ GOP congressional delegation, signed a joint letter on Friday, demanding the Obama administration free up around $400 million of a $589 million re-purpose of health program funds meant to go towards Zika virus response.

In the letter, Republican lawmakers expressed their “serious concerns” over the administration’s lack of allocating the money.

Here’s an excerpt of the letter:

 

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Gov. Abbott followed suit of his Republican counterparts Friday afternoon, and also sent a letter to President Obama.

Abbott said it was imperative the federal government act now to free up whatever money is available to combat Zika.

 

Abbott Letter to Obama

 

The battle in Congress over funding for the country’s response to the mosquito-borne virus reached a stalemate earlier this summer. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers recessed without approving any of the $1.9 billion President Obama requested earlier this year to help develop a vaccine and control mosquitoes that carry the virus.

In a press conference on Thursday, President Obama chided Washington lawmakers over not passing a Zika funding bill before recessing for seven weeks.

“Congress needs to do its job,” President Obama said.

“Fighting Zika costs money. Helping Puerto Rico deal with its Zika crisis costs money. Researching new vaccines, and by the way NIH just announced the first clinical trials in humans, that costs money. That’s why my administration proposed an urgent request for funding back in February. Not only did the Republican-led Congress not pass our request, they worked to cut it. And then they left for summer recess without passing any new funds for the fight against Zika. Meanwhile, our experts at the NIH and CDC, the folks on the front lines, have been doing their best to make do my moving funds from other areas. But now the money that we need to fight Zika is rapidly running out. The situation is getting critical.”

State, Abortion Rights Advocates Spar Over Proper Fetal Tissue Disposal

The Texas Department of State Health Services is holding a public hearing on Thursday over a rule proposed by state health officials this summer that would require embryonic and fetal tissue be buried or cremated after an abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

The rule has been praised by Gov. Greg Abbott, who said in a July fundraising email, “It is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”

Abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood Texas affiliates and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas strongly oppose the regulations.

They are testifying at Thursday’s hearing.

Here’s how these groups are responding to the proposed rule:

 

Planned Parenthood Testifies at Public Hearing in Opposition to Proposed Fetal Tissue Rule

TODAY: Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. CT

AUSTIN, TX – Today, the Department of State Health Services hears testimony in opposition to new regulations intended to restrict access to safe and legal abortion in Texas.

With little notice and just four days after the Supreme Court struck down restrictions that have already shuttered health centers across the state, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) introduced proposed rules that would force all women to bury or cremate fetal tissue following a safe, legal abortion. Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas submitted public comment to DSHS and Planned Parenthood supporters throughout the state have submitted more than 2,500 comments to the department in opposition to the rule, in addition to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Texas Medical Association, and the Texas Hospital Association.

 

 

More Than 1,100 Texans Decry Proposed Rules Requiring Fetal Tissue From an Abortion be Buried or Cremated

Austin, TX – The Texas Department of State Health Services held a public hearing Thursday on a proposed rule that would require embryonic and fetal tissue to be buried or cremated following an abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. More than 1,100 Texans have signed a petition from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas against the proposed measure.

“This is another politically-motivated move by our state’s leaders to make it harder for Texans to access abortion,”  Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said. “This rule has nothing to do with the safe practice of medicine, but rather is a thinly-veiled attempt to shame Texans who have abortions and make it harder for doctors to provide abortions. Instead of passing laws that complicate a patient’s experience and force them to consider burial services or death certificates, we should focus on making sure that patients are supported and respected and empowered in their decision.”

The rules dictate how health care facilities must dispose of tissue at all stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions for genetic testing, research or pathology and no consideration for best medical practices or patients’ wishes or religious beliefs.

 

Congressman Castro on Sen. Cruz: “He Freaked Out”

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro will take the main stage on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. First, he spoke to Texas delegates at their morning breakfast.

 

Castro made headlines earlier this week when he more definitively said he was looking into running for US Senate in 2018 against Sen. Ted Cruz. Thursday morning he told reporters Cruz has made Washington worse.

“Ted Cruz said he’d go to Washington and change Washington and he has. He’s made it worse, much worse,” Castro said.

 

Cruz sent out a fundraising email earlier this week after Castro mentioned he’s looking at running against him. Castro responded, “He freaked out. He freaked out when he read that. That’s what I would expect from someone who hasn’t spent any time working for the people of Texas.”

 

In that email to supporters Cruz said the Castro brothers have the support of the mainstream media and Washington establishment.

“This November, it is critical we elect conservatives up and down the ballot in order to prevent a liberal takeover of Washington, DC,” Cruz said.

 

 

Castro said he’d make a decision on running for Senate in the next several months.

 

The Texas Congressman also gave some insight into his speech tonight. He told reporters he’s going to talk about the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the fact that she will build opportunity in America and if he’s elected, he’s going to tear down opportunity.

 

Joaquin’s brother Julian also made headlines this week. His name had been thrown around about taking over as DNC chair. On Capital Tonight’s Wednesday show he told anchor Karina Kling, he’s not interested.

 

Watch the interview here.

 

 

 

Sanders Gets Warm Texas Welcome, Warns of Trump

Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped by the Texas delegate breakfast Wednesday morning. His visit came the day after a tense exchange between his Texas backers and Hillary Clinton supporters. During Tuesday’s breakfast, a call for unity from Sanders’ camp quickly turned ugly when one of the delegates said he condemned Clinton as the nominee. While he later apologized, that scene has been the norm during the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders has tried to calm his followers down, and continued that work during the Texas breakfast.

He walked in to loud applause and a standing ovation. He then told the crowd that the movement continues.

“The function of an election is not just to win,” Sanders said. “The function of an election is to transform this country.”

Sanders then went on to warn the delegates of Donald Trump and why they must vote for Clinton in November.

“Donald Trump is the worst candidate in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said.

He added, “The cornerstone of his campaign is not economics. The cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry.”

Sanders also touted how he has teamed up with Clinton to make the Democratic Party more progressive.

He lost Texas to Clinton by more than 30 points and acknowledged that in his remarks saying, “I know we didn’t do great in Texas.”

But he listed off some fond memories of his time campaigning there and thanked the delegates who worked so hard to get him elected and who continued the movement.

 

Photos by Karina Kling

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(Youngest delegate in the nation, Clarissa Rodriguez, gives Sanders a sign with his Texas supporters signatures)

Texas Delegates Spar Over Sanders, Clinton

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders delegates clashed over their candidates at their breakfast Tuesday morning. Sanders supporters got up on stage to try to unite in moving forward and spoke hopefully of dialogue with Clinton supporters. But then one of the Sanders delegates took a turn against the presumptive nominee.

“We want to be clear,” Russel Lytle said. “We are currently condemning our current presumptive nominee.”

 

Clinton backers quickly started shouting “shame” and “get off the stage.”

 

The two chairs of Clinton and Sanders Texas campaigns tried to calm the crowd down and urged unity.

 

Lytle apologized in a statement and also voluntarily withdrew his credentials.

 

The divide was evident on day one of the convention when Sanders supporters constantly booed while speakers took the main stage. Sanders told the audience in his primetime speech Monday night they needed to unite behind Clinton to beat Donald Trump. Sanders will speak at the Texas delegate breakfast Wednesday morning.

Join us on Capital Tonight at 7 for more reaction to the day’s events.

 

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Day 1 DNC Recap: Convention Floor Chaos, Sanders, FLOTUS, Warren Keynote

Day one of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia kicked off with quite a bit of chaos. But it ended with a call for unity.

That call came from Bernie Sanders, who’s supporters had been booing and shouting throughout the day on the convention floor.

Sanders spoke during primetime Monday night and walked out to loud applause. He said no one is more disappointed than he is that he’s not the nominee. He then listed off a number of his proposals that have been pushed front and center – because he says he was in the race. But while many remain disappointed he’s not the nominee, Sanders urged his supporters to unite behind Clinton.

“In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting one group after another, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” Sanders said.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama also took the stage on the first day of the convention. She took a jab at the Republican nominee saying she wants a president who knows issues “cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.”

She also praised Clinton saying she’s advancing the cause for women.

“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States,” Obama said.

 

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren urged Democrats to unite behind Clinton to beat Donald Trump. She said Trump only cares about himself, and democrats are stronger together.

“When we turn on each other we can’t unite to fight back against a rigged system. Well, I’ve got news for Donald Trump, the American people are not falling for it,” Warren said.

 

 

 

 

Cruz Confronted by Texas Delegates

  1. Ted Cruz took some heat from his home state delegates Thursday morning. The night before, he was booed during his primetime speech on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The convention crowd erupting in chants of “endorse Trump.” Cruz never made it official but congratulated Trump at the beginning of his speech. Trump walked into the hall at the end of Cruz’s speech to applause so loud, it drowned out the Texas senator’s final comments.

    On the final morning of the RNC, Cruz spoke at the Texas delegate breakfast. He was greeted with a standing ovation, but some in the crowd quickly started calling him out. Cruz took questions from the audience. One delegate spoke out saying when she first met Cruz, she asked if he was a man of his word? She noted that Cruz and Trump had some bad blood between them and Cruz acknowledged he didn’t want to endorse someone who attacked his wife and father. The delegate then added, “It’s not about Heidi, Rafael, it’s about the United State of America.”

    Cruz said, “I wasn’t elected to do the convenient thing, I was elected to do what’s right and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

    Another delegate shouted out, “Get over it, it’s politics.” Cruz responded, “This is not a game. This is not politics.”

    Cruz also told the supporters in the crowd that he’s not encouraging any of them to write his name in.

    When asked if Cruz was going to vote for Donald Trump, one delegate shouted out, “His vote is private.”

    A delegate from Houston talked about Cruz’s speech last night. “It was horrible to the end where he didn’t endorse. Thought it was tasteless and disrespectful,” he said.

    Photos by Karina Kling

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Cruz Thanks Supporters as Trump’s Plane Flies Overhead

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photos by Karina Kling

 

Sen. Ted Cruz held a Cleveland event Wednesday to thank the people who supported him during his presidential campaign. He didn’t mention his former rival Donald Trump by name, but when he told the crowd they have a nominee, Trump’s plane flew over the event. The crowd booed loudly. Cruz responded with a laugh said, “Alright, that was pretty well orchestrated. Jeff, did you email them to fly the plane right when I said that?”

Jeff Roe is Cruz’s campaign manager.

Cruz also recalled the end of his campaign and said his biggest regret was not individually thanking every volunteer who worked for him. He admitted he didn’t do it because he didn’t want to break down in front of reporters following his devastating loss in the Indiana primary.

“I wasn’t going to let those SOBs turn Lyin’ Ted into Cryin’ Ted.” Lyin’ Ted was the nickname Trump gave the Texas senator.  

 

 

 

Court Rules Texas Voter ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act

A federal appeals court has ordered changed to Texas’ voter ID law. The court ruled the law violates the Voting Rights Act and has ordered changes before the November election. The ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals instructs a lower court to fix the “discriminatory effect” of the 2011 law before the November election, but said to do it without disrupting the process too much.

 

Read the statements from Texas officials on both sides of the issue (will be updated):

 

Governor Greg Abbott today released the following statement on the 5th Circuit Court’s Voter ID ruling:

 

“The 5th Circuit rightly reversed the lower court’s finding of discriminatory purpose, but wrongly concluded the law had a discriminatory effect. Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the election process. As Attorney General I prosecuted cases against voter fraud across the State, and Texas will continue to make sure there is no illegal voting at the ballot box.”

 

Attorney General Ken Paxton:

“It is imperative that the State government safeguards our elections and ensures the integrity of our democratic process. Preventing voter fraud is essential to accurately reflecting the will of Texas voters during elections, and it is unfortunate that this common-sense law, providing protections against fraud, was not upheld in its entirety.”

 

The Texas Legislature enacted the voter ID law in 2011 through Senate Bill 14 (SB14), requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID when voting at the polls. The seven acceptable forms of photo ID included the following: a Texas Driver’s license, free Texas election identification certificate (EIC), Texas personal ID card, Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, U.S. military ID card, U.S. citizenship certificate, and U.S. passport.

 

 

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:

 

“Today, is a great day for all Texas voters! The most restrictive and discriminatory Republican voter ID law in country has been struck down.

 

“Texas Democrats know that our nation and democracy are stronger when everyone participates in the electoral process. That is why today’s victory is so important for our families. This November, our families will decide the future of our nation, and voter ID, as we know it, will be no more.

 

“Texas Republican’s discriminatory Voter ID law has held some 700,000 Texans away from their right to vote for many elections now. Unfortunately, that damage by Republicans has already been done to our families. However, we can now look forward to a fairer election system, worthy of our great state.

 

“This is a huge win for voting rights in Texas and across our nation.

 

“Our legal team is reviewing the opinion and the Texas Democratic Party will have further comment at a later time.”

 

 

San Antonio, Texas – State Senator José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) issued the following statement after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Texas’ intolerable voter ID law.

                              

The following quotes are attributable to Senator José Menéndez:

 

“Today the Court affirmed that voting is a founding principal of our Democracy and nothing shall abridge that right. We knew from the beginning that Texas’ voter ID law was meant to disenfranchise voters. The ruling will help the grandmother who no longer has her driver’s license exercise her right to vote. It will allow the college student, who was barred from using a student id to vote, access to their polling place. For too long, the State prioritized keeping people away from a polling location with this draconian law. The Court confirmed that this egregious law was put into place to oppress Texas voters. Laws that hinder the minority vote have no place in America.”

 

“The millions of dollars spent defending this unconstitutional law could have helped shore up Child Protective Services, replaced textbooks for Texas classrooms, or helped thousands of indigent seniors. I’m calling on General Paxton to stop chasing windmills and face the reality that this law discriminates against voters. It’s all money flushed down the toilet on a “solution” looking for a fictitious problem.”

 

 

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas:

“We’re delighted that the 5th Circuit has determined — once again – that Texas’ discriminatory photo voter ID law has the effect of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of minority voters in the Lone Star State while doing precisely nothing to prevent voter fraud. This law was nothing less than a brazen and transparent attempt to keep people of color out of the voting booth. The case now goes back to the district judge to fashion a remedy that will make it easier for qualified Texans to cast their ballots this fall and we’re hopeful the result will be more fair.”

 

 

 

 

Speaker Straus Still Not on Trump Train

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has not endorsed Donald Trump and he said he doesn’t have plans to do it.

“I don’t think endorsing, or my activity at the top of the ticket is going to matter a bit,” Speaker Straus said in a one on one interview with Capital Tonight anchor Karina Kling at the RNC in Cleveland, Ohio.

“My focus is down ballot. I have this job to do and I take it 100 percent seriously.”

Straus is the chairman of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee which works to get GOP lawmakers elected nationwide.

“There should be more focus and care and attention down ballot then ever before because of that unpredictability at the top,” Straus said.

Straus also talked about legislative priorities for the next session. Watch our full interview with him on Capital Tonight at 7pm.

 

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