Jul 20th - 6:28 pm
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.
Jul 20th - 2:41 pm
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.”
Jul 19th - 1:11 pm
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.
Jul 19th - 1:00 pm
Each morning before the convention convenes, Texas Delegates get to hear from state and nationally elected Republicans. Tuesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke about the need for party unity.
Like a lot of Republicans, the Wisconsin Congressman took his time before officially endorsing Donald Trump. He said the threat of a Hillary Clinton presidency should be enough for voters to turn out and support the presumptive Republican nominee.
“This is a binary choice. It is either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. If you’re not for Donald Trump, if you’re not voting, if you’re not showing up, you’re helping Hillary Clinton,” Speaker Ryan said.
Ryan praised Texas Representatives, Kevin Brady and Michael McCaul for leading committees in the house. The House Speaker will also address the convention floor, later Tuesday night.
Here are some photos from the Texas delegation breakfast:
Jul 19th - 11:59 am
Day 1 of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio provided some fireworks and controversy. While the party leaders try to promote unity, a group of delegates trying to stop Trump led a floor fight over a vote on convention rules. The Never Trump group wanted a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules, but a voice vote prevailed. Some Texans, like delegate Rachel Chupnik, said it would have been a fairer approach.
“It should be perfectly fine to have the delegates be able to have a roll call vote, for example, where you can clearly distinguish between the ayes and the nays instead of just both sides shout and okay the ayes have it. Well it was not very clear at all.”
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler disagreed.
“The woman from Colorado who was behind the unbinding it failed miserable. I mean it didn’t even come close to getting a threshold.”
The move to stop Trump wasn’t likely to get approved but the movement continues to have a presence this week at the convention.
Meanwhile, three Texans took the stage Monday night. Congressman Michael McCaul got a primetime spot. He was tapped by Trump to carry out the theme of day one, “Make America Safe Again.” The chair of the House Homeland Security Committee acknowledged the recent police shootings in his home state, saying “America stands with my hometown and we will never forget.”
Then he tore into Hillary Clinton’s record on national security and told the crowd, Trump will repair the damage she has done.
“A Trump administration will take on this fight and send a clear message to the Islamic terrorists, “you may have fired the first shot but rest assured, America will fire the last,” McCaul said to a cheering crowd.
Two other Texans took the stage Monday night. Former Governor Rick Perry introduced his friend and former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Both tried to make the pitch to veterans to get on board with Trump.
We also caught up with Perry one on one. He said he’d be open to serving in the Trump Administration.
Sen. John Cornyn has been less enthusiastic about Trump, but in our one on one interview he said “those of us who had other choices that we would have preferred need to get over it.”
Watch our full interviews here.
Jun 27th - 11:04 am
In a 5-3 decision Monday, the US Supreme Court struck down Texas’ strict abortion regulations that would have closed more than half the clinics in the state. It’s the court’s biggest abortion case in nearly a quarter century. Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion. We will have complete coverage of the decision, plus reaction from Texas leaders on Capital Tonight at 7pm.
Statements from Texas officials on both sides of the issue have been coming in all morning. We’ve compiled a list of those responses below:
Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health:
“I am beyond elated. Every day Whole Woman’s Health treats our patients with compassion, respect and dignity—and with this historic decision, today the Supreme Court did the same. We’re thrilled that justice was served and our clinics stay open. After years of fighting heartless, anti-abortion Texas politicians who would seemingly stop at nothing to push abortion out of reach, I want everyone to understand: you don’t mess with Texas, you don’t mess with Whole Woman’s Health, and you don’t mess with this beautiful, powerful movement of people dedicated to reproductive health, rights, and justice.
“Three years ago, Texas politicians passed HB 2, a regressive law aimed directly at women who have decided to end a pregnancy and those of us who provide their care. With no legitimate medical justification, politicians forced abortion providers to completely restructure our clinics or to build mini hospitals. HB 2 forced more than half of Texas’ abortion clinics to close—including several of my own. These closures have put a staggering burden on Texas women. With this clinic shutdown law, politicians forced Texas women seeking abortion to go to clinics that are further away or in another state; take more days off of work, lose income, find childcare, and arrange and pay for transportation to travel hundreds of miles. For many, the process of obtaining safe and legal health care has become an onerous, grueling feat or just flat out impossible.
“I hold in my heart all those women and families who were forced to forgo care as a result of Texas’ draconian anti-choice laws.
“Today’s decision marks a turnaround for Texas and for our country, but let me be clear: this win doesn’t mean the struggle is over. First, clinics don’t reopen overnight. We have a daunting task ahead of us to determine whether and how we can reopen our health centers that were forced to shut their doors over the past several years. Renewing leases, hiring staff, and working with the communities that we previously served to help us re- open for care. And second, this decision only addressed two of the many, many restrictions women face to get abortion care in Texas. Now we must redouble our efforts across the country to end similar state restrictions that push abortion out of reach for too many women. It’s time to pass proactive state laws so a woman has access to quality clinics in her community, can afford abortion, and doesn’t face shame or stigma when she seeks care.
“From day one, Whole Woman’s Health rejected HB 2’s insulting premise and we fought back. We took on the bully politicians. We have struggled every day since then against anti-choice regressive policies and our opposition’s best efforts to shut us down. And we won.
“Today, we made history and tomorrow, we get back to work so that every woman who seeks abortion services can get the health care she needs with dignity and respect.”
DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Women’s Caucus Chair Lottie Shackelford, and Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following joint statement:
The Supreme Court made the right decision today by ruling in favor of women’s health and women’s rights. In the forty years since Roe v. Wade, women have had the constitutionally protected right to make their own health care decisions and access to a safe and legal abortion.
“Since then, Republicans have pursued every opportunity in states across the country to undermine those rights and invade women’s privacy. Like so many other similar anti-abortion measures snaking their way through state legislatures, the Texas law struck down today purports to make women’s reproductive health care safer. In reality, the medically unnecessary, intrusive and dubious regulations it contains are so onerous, expensive or impossible to implement that they force health care clinics to close their doors and turn women away. Texas is home to 5.4 million women of reproductive age. In its first year alone, HB2 forced half of the Texas clinics that provided abortion services to close, leaving some women to travel hundreds of miles for the care they need.
“By striking down HB2, the Court has given Texas women and women everywhere a victory in the ongoing fight to protect abortion rights. But we cannot take anything for granted and we must remain vigilant – especially as we head toward Election Day in November. Today’s victory, however, doesn’t change the fact that the American people deserve a fully functioning Supreme Court. Last week the court deadlocked on issues in which the vacant seat on the Court would have made it possible for the independent judicial branch to actually rule on the merits of the case before it. And that took place almost exactly 100 days after President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland, who is widely recognized as the most qualified jurist to have ever been nominated to the Supreme Court, with Senate Republicans continuing to block his confirmation and those of dozens of other judges to federal benches.
“The ruling also highlights the contrast before voters in this November’s elections. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, is opposed to abortion rights and even said women who get an abortion should be punished. Democrats will continue to stand up for a women’s right to choose. We are poised to nominate a presidential candidate in July who, unlike Trump, will have the temperament and judgment required to lead from the Oval Office, including to carry out the sacred duty to nominate federal judges. We must elect a Democrat as our next president.”
Lisa Turner, Lone Star Project State Director:
“Texas Republicans should stop wasting our tax dollars defending disastrous policies and start solving urgent state needs like foster care and public education – start improving lives and stop risking them. Thankfully the United States Supreme Court sided with women and families over Texas Republicans in striking down their dangerous and overreaching attack on women’s health.”
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, made the following statement in response to the Supreme Court ruling:
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for Texans’ health and safety. This decision means that the remaining abortion clinics in Texas won’t have to close their doors and paves the way for other clinics to open to meet the needs of underserved communities across the state.
“This landmark decision continues the powerful momentum for reproductive rights and against political interference in our right to safe, legal abortion. The fight to protect abortion access does not end today—this is just the first step in dismantling laws that make it harder for people to access the health care they need.”
Sen. Kirk Watson
“Today, the women of Texas won. The U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld the right to accessible and safe reproductive health care for women. And for that, we have a cavalry of strong Texas women to thank.
For too long, the women of this state have been collateral damage in a political battle. I’m hopeful we can now get to work on policies that truly do protect women’s health, such as improved access to birth control and breast and cervical cancer screenings as well as medically accurate sex education.”
Sen. Jose Menendez:
“Today’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court to overturn House Bill 2 is a profound victory for women not just in Texas, but across the country. The 5-3 decision shows that House Bill 2 was never meant to protect women’s health, but rather a ruse to deny access to their constitutional right to an abortion. With this bill overturned, Texas is now a safer, more accessible state for all women.”
“The unscrupulous regulations put in place under House Bill 2 had profound consequences in Texas. More than half of the abortion clinics in Texas were shuttered, making it difficult to receive medical care for thousands of Texans. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled I hope these clinics will reopen and provide needed reproductive care.”
“Finally, the fight to protect a woman’s right to choose is not over. Today’s ruling marked a major victory for women’s health, but rest assured politicians are already devising the next round of medically unnecessary regulations. We must remain vigilant and stand up for Texas women.”
Rep. Donna Howard:
“Today’s ruling is a triumphant reaffirmation of our reproductive rights.
“This statement from the Supreme Court is a powerful indicator that we need to stop fighting a battle which was decided in Roe v. Wade more than 40 years ago.
“Moving forward, Texas lawmakers should refrain from pushing medically unnecessary policies which erect barriers to a safe and legal medical procedure. If they do, it is now crystal clear that the courts—and the public—will forcefully stand in their way.
“In the upcoming session, I will be filing proposals to allow for 12-month supplies of birth control pills, provide for a contraceptive benefit through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and continue expanding access to implants and IUDs.
“I hope that my fellow lawmakers will support these and other family planning measures which lead toward our shared goal of reducing the rate of and need for abortion, but do so in a manner which respects women and better ensures their health, safety, and autonomy.”
Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller:
“This decision is a huge victory for the dignity of women and their constitutional right to make their own health care decisions. But extremists from the Governor’s Office to the state Capitol are already preparing more legislative efforts to deny women their constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion care in Texas. They refused to listen to the experts who said this law was medically unnecessary and to the voices of thousands of women who came to the Capitol three years ago. But the Supreme Court listened to those voices and today honored the constitutional right of women to access abortion care no matter their zip code. This fight continues until our lawmakers trust Texas women and families to make their own decisions about their health care and their future.”
Governor Greg Abbott:
“The decision erodes States’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost. Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton:
“HB2 was an effort to improve minimum safety standards and ensure capable care for Texas women. It’s exceedingly unfortunate that the court has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of Texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives.”
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick:
“Today’s United States Supreme Court ruling striking down House Bill 2 (HB 2) is a devastating blow to the protection of the health and safety of women in Texas. HB 2 was passed during the 83rd Texas legislative session to ensure the health and safety of women by holding abortion clinics to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers while also requiring practitioners to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.
Now abortion clinics are free to ignore these basic safety standards and continue practicing under substandard conditions. By its ruling, the Court held that the ability of abortion clinics to remain open – even under substandard conditions –outweighs the state’s ability to put women’s health and safety first.
Despite today’s devastating impact on women’s health care, and as the proud author of the sonogram bill and co-writer of HB 2, I remain committed to protecting women’s health and safety.”
Sen. John Cornyn:
“Today’s ruling sets a dangerous precedent for states like Texas, which the Constitution makes clear should be free to pass laws that are in the best interests of our citizens. Commonsense requirements that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as other medical facilities put the health of the patient first, and today’s decision is a step back in protecting the well-being of mothers across our state.”
Sen. Ted Cruz:
“The Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is profoundly disappointing,” Sen. Cruz said. “Texas enacted HB 2’s commonsense health standards to ensure that women receive safe care.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court sided with abortion extremists who care more about providing abortion-on-demand than they do protecting women’s health.
“This decision will not silence our fight to protect the most helpless and innocent among us, nor will we cease our efforts to protect women from an abortion industry that prioritizes profit margins over improving the safety and health of Texas women. We will continue to stand resolutely to defend unborn life because we know that every life is a gift from God, and without life there is no liberty.”
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler:
“With the Supreme Court striking down House Bill 2 this morning, women’s healthcare in the state of Texas was dealt a significant blow. Allowing substandard clinics to remain intact means the Supreme Court chose quantity over quality when it comes to the services provided to Texas women, which is completely unacceptable. The Republican Party of Texas will proudly continue to fight for Texas women’s health.”
Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life:
We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision. The State of Texas will be unable to fully implement HB 2’s common sense regulations to protect the health and safety of women at substandard abortion facilities. Our work to protect mothers and unborn babies from abortion will continue. We will scrutinize this decision, hostile as it is to reasonable safety regulations, to find ways to increase abortion facility safety regulations as much as possible. Even if HB 2 were fully implemented, abortion would remain readily available in Texas. Nine enormous abortion facilities that meet the HB 2 safety standards will continue to operate in the major metropolitan areas — Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio — as well as a free standing abortion facility in McAllen and abortion facilities in New Mexico near to El Paso. The difference is that nine substandard facilities, all located near to these, will continue to operate. We will continue to promote compassionate alternatives to abortion, including adoption, so that no woman seeks abortion because she feels she has no alternative.
SEN. KONNI BURTON STATEMENT ON WHOLE WOMEN’S HEALTH V. HELLERSTEDT RULING
“I am extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling today; however, members of the Texas Legislature like myself,
who believe deeply in the value of every human life, will not yield in our efforts to provide the highest quality healthcare for
women and our continued promotion of a culture of life.”
Jun 23rd - 11:53 am
The United States Supreme Court tie vote on immigration has blocked President Obama’s plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation. The 4-4 vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the decisions by a federal judge in Brownsville and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals until a full hearing of the case. It is a big blow to the Obama administration, which hoped to roll out the expansion of the program before the end of his presidency. Texas led 26 Republican-dominated states in challenging the program.
We’ve compiled a list of Texas leaders reaction to the Supreme Court ruling that we have received:
Governor Greg Abbott
“The action taken by the President was an unauthorized abuse of presidential power that trampled the Constitution, and the Supreme Court rightly denied the President the ability to grant amnesty contrary to immigration laws,” said Governor Abbott. “As the President himself said, he is not a king who can unilaterally change and write immigration laws. Today’s ruling is also a victory for all law-abiding Americans—including the millions of immigrants who came to America following the rule of law.”
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick
“Today’s action by the U.S. Supreme Court effectively blocking President Obama’s illegal amnesty program is a major victory for Texas and the bipartisan 26-state coalition.
The Court’s 4-4 vote leaves in place the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that protects the separation of powers. The president has no authority to circumvent Congress and disregard the U.S. Constitution by allowing millions of illegal immigrants to continue to stay in the U.S. I will continue to lead the effort to secure the Texas border. Last session the Senate lead to increase funding to an unprecedented $800 million for border security. In Texas we are taking the right steps to protect our citizens. I thank those in Texas law enforcement who are on the front lines every day for us. Next session, border security will continue to be a top priority for me.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton
“Today’s decision keeps in place what we have maintained from the very start: one person, even a president, cannot unilaterally change the law. This is a major setback to President Obama’s attempts to expand executive power, and a victory for those who believe in the separation of powers and the rule of law.”
Sen. John Cornyn
“By going around Congress to grant legal status to millions of people here illegally, the President abused the power of his office and ignored the will of the American people. The President can’t circumvent the legislative process simply because he doesn’t get what he wants, and I’m glad the Rule of Law was affirmed.”
Congressman Michael McCaul
“Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court is a victory for the constitution and our sovereignty as a nation. The 4-4 vote affirms the 5th Circuit of Appeals decision that President Obama’s executive amnesty is unconstitutional and cannot go forward. President Obama has continually attempted to go around Congress and bypass the checks and balances our government is based on in order to impose his will. This decision is a major step in reeling in the power of the executive branch. It also gives Congress an opportunity to achieve one of my top priorities as Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security – securing our border first.”
Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus
“I am extremely disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court did not uphold President Obama’s order granting prosecutorial discretion for the undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents. This decision will hurt economically, DAPA and its precursor Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been a tremendous benefit to Texas. In Texas, undocumented youth paid $51.6 million in tuition and fees in 2013 and paid an estimated $1.6 billion in state and local taxes. In 2011, immigrants of all status contributed $65 billion in economic output to the state in terms of wages, salary, and business earnings. But even worse, tearing families apart will continue to cast a shadow of fear over hard working immigrant workers and encourage their exploitation. Congress must take action and provide a process for these workers and students to serve their country, move up the economic ladder, and achieve their dreams.”
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa
“For our kids, this is about whether mom or dad will be here tomorrow. This is a human tragedy, and 4 million people’s lives hang in the balance. Congress refuses to act on immigration, the Supreme Court is tied, and Senate Republicans refuse to do their job and give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a vote or even a hearing.
“Tragically, this decision endangers the lives of so many. It’s time for Republicans to stop trying to score political points by tearing families apart. It’s time for Republicans to join a broad coalition of Democrats, the business community, faith leaders, and families working towards comprehensive immigration solutions.
“We all need to get to work, because America’s families depend on it. We cannot allow Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to set the tone on immigration and score cheap political points on the lives of our families. Today, Texas Democrats renew their commitment to keep fighting for a just and fair comprehensive immigration system.”
Jose P. Garza, Executive Director of the Workers Defense Project
“The Supreme Court has failed to provide a solution for people living in the shadows. The Court’s decision means that as many as five million immigrants in the U.S. remain in constant fear of being separated from their families at any time, and possibly deported. Workers Defense and our families will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform despite this decision.”
State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, Chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus
“The Supreme Court’s ruling in US v. Texas is profoundly disappointing. In addition to opening the floodgates for blatantly ideological lawsuits against government policies, this ruling condemns millions of folks who just want to earn an education, to work, and improve the lives of their families to live under the constant threat of deportation and separation from their families.
“We will not surrender to fear, anger, misunderstanding, or hate. We will not give up the fight for common-sense immigration reform.”
State Representative Ana Hernandez, Legal Counsel for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus
“The Supreme Court’s tied decision on the President’s executive actions does nothing to secure our economy or help hardworking families wanting to contribute to American society. It simply keeps in place an unacceptable status quo anchored in uncertainty and fear. Our country deserves better.”
We will update as we receive more statements throughout the day. Join us at 7 on Capital Tonight for full coverage of both immigration and affirmative action rulings from SCOTUS today. We’ll also have in depth analysis and our guest tonight is former Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis. She’ll be discussing the upcoming decision from the high court on abortion.
Jun 6th - 12:40 pm
Democratic US Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville sent presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a letter regarding comments he has made during the campaign.
You can read Rep. Filemon’s full letter below:
Dear Mr. Trump,
As the United States Representative for the 34th Congressional District of Texas, I do not disagree with everything you say. I agree that the United States Government has largely failed our veterans, and those of us who represent the people in Congress have the obligation to rectify the Veterans Administration’s deficiencies. I also believe that the Mexican government and our own State Department must be much more aggressive in addressing cartel violence and corruption in Mexico, especially in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. And clearly, criminal felons who are here illegally should be immediately deported. There might even be a few other things on which we can agree.
However, your ignorant anti-immigrant opinions, your border wall rhetoric, and your recent bigoted attack on an American jurist are just plain despicable.
Your position with respect to the millions of undocumented Mexican workers who now live in this country is hateful, dehumanizing, and frankly shameful. The vast number of these individuals work in hotels, restaurants, construction sites, and agricultural fields across the United States. If I had to guess, your own business enterprises either directly or indirectly employ more of these workers than most other businesses in our country. Thousands of our businesses would come to a grinding halt if we invoked a policy that would require “mass deportation” as you and many of your supporters would suggest. That is precisely why the Republican-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees that these workers deserve a national immigration policy that would give them a pathway to citizenship.
While you would build more and bigger walls on the U.S.-Mexico border, I would tear the existing wall to pieces. No doubt Mexico has its problems, but it is also our third-largest trading partner. U.S. Chamber of Commerce has documented that this trade relationship is responsible for six million jobs in the United States. In 2015, the U.S. imported $296 billion in goods from Mexico while exporting $235 billion in products manufactured in this country to Mexico. The Great Wall of China is historically obsolete, and President Ronald Reagan famously declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall … ” while urging the Soviet Union to destroy the barrier that divided West and East Berlin. Why any modern-thinking person would ever believe that building a wall along the border of a neighboring country, which is both our ally and one of our largest trading partners, is frankly astounding and asinine.
I should also point out that thousands of Americans of Mexican descent that you mistakenly refer to as “Mexicans” have valiantly served the United States in every conflict since the Civil War. While too numerous to list, let me educate you about a few of these brave Medal of Honor recipients:
Master Sergeant Jose Lopez, from my own hometown of Brownsville, Texas, fought in World War II. Lopez was awarded the United States’ highest military decoration for valor in combat – the Medal of Honor – for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge, in which he single handedly repulsed a German infantry attack, killing at least 100 enemy troops. If you ever run into Kris Kristofferson, ask him about Jose Lopez because as a young man Mr. Kristofferson recalls the 1945 parade honoring Sergeant Lopez as an event he will never forget.
In 1981, President Reagan presented Master Sergeant Roy Benavides with the Medal of Honor for fighting in what has been described as “6 hours in hell.” In Vietnam, Sergeant Benavides suffered 37 separate bullet, bayonet and shrapnel wounds to his face, leg, head and stomach while saving the lives of eight men. In fact, when awarding the honor to Benavides, President Reagan, turned to the media and said, “if the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it.”
You have now descended to a new low in your racist attack of an American jurist, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by calling him a “Mexican” simply because he ruled against you in a case in which you are being accused of fraud, among other accusations. Judge Curiel is one of 124 Americans of Hispanic descent who have served this country with honor and distinction as federal district judges. In fact, the first Hispanic American ever named to the federal bench in the United States, Judge Reynaldo G. Garza, was also from Brownsville, Texas, and was appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
Before you dismiss me as just another “Mexican,” let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather. His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first “Mexican” federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench.
I would like to end this letter in a more diplomatic fashion, but I think that you, of all people, understand why I cannot. I will not presume to speak on behalf of every American of Mexican descent, for every undocumented worker born in Mexico who is contributing to our country every day or, for that matter, every decent citizen in Mexico. But, I am sure that many of these individuals would agree with me when I say: ‘Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.’
Member of Congress
– – –
Estimado Sr. Trump:
En mi capacidad como miembro de la Cámara de Representantes de EE. UU. por el 34º Distrito, no estoy en desacuerdo con todo lo que dice. Estoy de acuerdo con que el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos en general le ha fallado a los Veteranos —y estoy de acuerdo con que los que representamos a la ciudadanía en el Congreso tenemos la obligación de rectificar las carencias del Departamento de Asuntos de los Veteranos. También creo que el Gobierno de México y nuestro propio Departamento de Estado deben tomar medidas mucho más agresivas al combatir la violencia y la corrupción relacionadas con los cárteles en México, especialmente en la frontera con el estado mexicano de Tamaulipas. Y por supuesto que estoy de acuerdo con que los criminales que se encuentran en nuestro país de manera ilegal deberían ser deportados de inmediato. Incluso puede que haya algunas otras cosas en las que podamos estar de acuerdo.
Sin embargo, sus ignorantes opiniones antiinmigrantes, su discurso en torno al muro fronterizo, y su más reciente ataque lleno de prejuicios dirigido a un jurista estadounidense son totalmente repudiables.
Su postura con respecto a los millones de trabajadores mexicanos indocumentados quienes actualmente viven en este país es una llena de odio, inhumana y, francamente, es vergonzosa. La gran mayoría de estos individuos trabajan en hoteles, restaurantes, zonas de construcción y campos agrícolas a lo largo de los Estados Unidos. Estoy casi seguro de que sus propias empresas, ya sea de manera directa o indirecta, emplean un mayor número de estos trabajadores que la mayoría de las otras empresas de nuestro país. Miles de nuestras empresas se verían paralizadas por completo si optáramos por implementar una política de “deportaciones masivas” como sugieren usted y muchos de sus seguidores. Es precisamente por eso que la Cámara de Comercio de EE. UU. —un organismo de tendencia republicana— es de la opinión de que estos trabajadores se merecen una política nacional de inmigración que les ofrezca una vía a la ciudadanía.
Si bien usted pretende construir más y más grandes muros en la frontera de EE. UU. con México, yo por mi parte derrumbaría el que ahora existe. No cabe duda de que México tiene sus problemas, sin embargo, también es nuestro tercer socio comercial más grande. La Cámara de EE. UU. ha reportado que esta relación comercial ha generado seis millones de empleos en los Estados Unidos. En el 2015, Estados Unidos importó 296 mil millones de dólares en bienes de México, y exportó 235 mil millones de dólares en productos fabricados en este país a México. Históricamente, la Gran Muralla China ha quedado obsoleta, y todos recordamos las palabras del Presidente Ronald Reagan al insistirle al líder de la Unión Soviética que destruyera el muro que dividía a Berlín en dos partes: “Derribe este muro, señor Gorbachov…”. El hecho de que en este punto de la historia cualquier persona crea que construir un muro a lo largo de la frontera con un país vecino, que no sólo es nuestro aliado, sino también uno de nuestros mayores socios comerciales, me parece francamente desconcertante y asnal.
También vale la pena mencionar que cientos de estadounidenses de ascendencia mexicana a quienes usted incorrectamente se refiere como “mexicanos” han servido a los Estados Unidos con valentía en todos y cada uno de los conflictos que han surgido desde la Guerra Civil. Si bien son demasiados como para mencionarlos a todos, permítame ilustrarlo con información respecto a unos pocos de estos valientes hombres quienes han recibido la Medalla de Honor:
El Sargento Maestro José López, originario de Brownsville, Texas —mi ciudad de origen— luchó en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. López recibió la más alta condecoración militar de los Estados Unidos por su valor en el combate —la Medalla de Honor— por sus heroicas acciones durante la Batalla de las Ardenas, durante la cual repelió un ataque por parte de la infantería alemana y abatió al menos un centenar de soldados enemigos. Si alguna vez se topa con Kris Kristofferson, pregúntele acerca de José López. El señor Kristofferson recuerda el desfile de 1945 en honor al Sargento López como un evento inolvidable que presenció en su juventud.
En 1981, el Presidente Reagan le otorgó la Medalla de Honor al Sargento Maestro Roy Benavides por haber luchado durante lo que muchos han descrito como “6 horas en el infierno”. El Sargento Benavides recibió 37 heridas ocasionadas por balas, bayoneta y esquirlas en la cara, la pierna, la cabeza y el estómago al salvar la vida de ocho hombres. De hecho, al otorgarle el reconocimiento a Benavides, el Presidente Reagan se dirigió a los medios y dijo: “si la historia de su heroísmo fuese el guión de una película, nadie se lo creería”.
Con sus ataques racistas en contra del jurista estadounidense y juez federal de distrito, Gonzalo Curiel, y al referirse a él como un “mexicano” simplemente porque emitió un fallo en su contra en un caso en el cual se le acusa de fraude, entre otras cosas, ha caído usted más bajo que nunca. El Juez Curiel es uno de los 124 estadounidenses de ascendencia hispana que han servido a este país como jueces federales de distrito con honor y distinción. De hecho, el primer hispano que fue nombrado juez federal de los Estados Unidos, el Juez Reynaldo G. Garza, también era originario de Brownsville, Texas y fue nombrado por el Presidente John F. Kennedy en 1961.
Antes de que me desestime por ser sólo otro “mexicano”, permítame señalar que mi tatarabuelo llegó a este país en 1857, mucho antes de la llegada de su propio abuelo. Todos sus nietos (mi abuelo y sus hermanos) sirvieron a este país durante la Primera y la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Su bisnieto, mi padre, sirvió en el Ejército de los Estados Unidos y, casualmente, fue uno de los primeros jueces “mexicanos” asignados a la judicatura federal.
Me gustaría terminar esta carta de manera más diplomática, pero creo que usted entiende bien por qué me es imposible. No pretendo hablar por todos los estadounidenses de ascendencia mexicana, por aquellos trabajadores indocumentados nacidos en México quienes día tras día contribuyen tanto a nuestro país, ni tampoco por cada uno de los ciudadanos decentes de México. Sin embargo, estoy seguro de que muchos de estos individuos me apoyarían en lo que voy a decir: Señor Trump, es usted un racista, y puede meterse su muro fronterizo por el culo.
Miembro del Congreso de EE. UU.
Texas Lawmakers, Education Groups Respond to State Supreme Court Ruling – School Finance System is Constitutional
May 13th - 1:09 pm
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ complicated school finance system is constitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday — a decision that handed a major defeat to the 600-plus school districts that sued the state more than four years ago.
The all-Republican court reversed a lower-court ruling that had sided with schools and called the funding set by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011 inadequate and unfairly distributed among the wealthy and poor parts of the state.
“This is a surprising decision after years of legal battles over how public schools are funded. It was the largest case of its kind in recent Texas history. But it means Texas lawmakers won’t have to devise a new funding system next session, although the court called on them to reform it,” said Capital Tonight Texas Anchor Karina Kling.
Major legal battles over classroom funding have raged six times since 1984, but the latest decision by the high court’s justices marks just the second time they’ve failed to find the system unconstitutional. It also means the Texas Legislature won’t have to devise a new funding system.
“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” the court found in its ruling. “Accordingly, we decline to usurp legislative authority by issuing reform diktats from on high, supplanting lawmakers’ policy wisdom with our own.”
The state’s highest civil court disagreed with Democratic state District Judge John Dietz, who previously declared Texas’ system of school funding — a “Robin Hood” formula in which wealthy school districts share local property tax revenue with districts in poorer areas — inadequate and unfairly distributed. School districts rely heavily on property taxes because Texas has no state income tax.
At issue in the case was the $5.4 billion in cuts to public education and related classroom grant programs that the Legislature approved in 2011, when the state’s economy was still reeling from the Great Recession. That prompted more than 600 rich and poor school districts — which educate three-quarters of the state’s public school students — to sue, arguing they could no longer properly function amid Texas’ public school enrollment growth of nearly 80,000 students annually.
Exacerbating the problems, they argued, was the Legislature’s increased demand for student and teacher accountability as measured by standardized testing scores and tough curriculum standards.
Dietz’s first ruling in 2013 found the state’s system didn’t meet the Texas Constitution’s requirements for a fair and efficient system providing a “general diffusion of knowledge.” State lawmakers responded by restoring more than $3 billion to schools and cutting the number of standardized tests required for high school students to graduate from a nation-high 15 to five.
Dietz reopened the case to hear how that would impact schools, but didn’t change his mind before issuing his written ruling in August 2014, which the state appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. Last year, the Legislature pumped about another $1.5 billion into schools, but that wasn’t enough to cover the 2011 cuts when adjusted for enrollment growth and inflation.
The Texas Attorney General’s office has argued that, while far from perfect, the current system met constitutional standards, though it has refused to comment outside of court or related filings. Abbott was attorney general when the case began before becoming governor last year, but neither he, nor his successor, Ken Paxton, argued the case personally.
Above compiled by AP and TWC News Staff.
Here are reaction statements from lawmakers and education groups:
Gov. Greg Abbott:
“Today’s ruling is a victory for Texas taxpayers and the Texas Constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision ends years of wasteful litigation by correctly recognizing that courts do not have the authority to micromanage the State’s school finance system. I am grateful for the excellent work of the State’s lawyers at the Attorney General’s Office, without whom this landmark ruling could not have been achieved.”
Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria issued the following statement:
“It is a sad day when the state’s highest court decides that doing the least the state can do to educate our children is enough.
“Parents and teachers know that educating our children is not about ‘minimum constitutional requirements.’ It’s about right and wrong.
“Texas spends about $2,700 less per student than the national average, and we continue to fall further behind. Today’s shallow ruling does not make it right to keep shortchanging our children’s schools and putting our future at risk. We will not rest until the state does what is right for our children.”
Lt. Governor Patrick:
“Today, the Texas Supreme Court confirmed what we already knew. Texas’ school finance system, while imperfect, is constitutional.
“I will continue to look for ways to improve our state’s school system performance and quality, while developing options to expand school choice for students across the state.”
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus:
“While I am grateful that the Supreme Court has found our school finance system to be constitutional, it’s important to remember the Court also said there is ample room for improvement. The Texas House will continue working to deliver value for taxpayers and provide an outstanding education for our students.”
Association of Texas Professional Educators Executive Director Gary Godsey said:
“It’s unfortunate that the Supreme Court has decided the minimum is enough for Texas public school children. As ATPE has done for years, we will continue to press lawmakers to take responsibility for crafting solutions that will make our school finance system not simply ‘minimally’ acceptable under the constitution, but in line with all of the state’s other expectations for our public schools. The burden is on the legislature to act, but it is also on voters to elect lawmakers who will have the fortitude to make the necessary decisions.”
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, House Public Education Chairman:
“During the 84th legislative session there was much work done attempting to improve our school finance system. That effort did not come to fruition. While there was reluctance among legislators to deal with the issue, the real and perennial reason school finance is so difficult to deal with is the lack of consensus among school districts and their associations. Each district sees the issue differently and bands together in associations to defend their view.
Last session HB1759 was an attempt to simplify and improve the funding system. Even the proposed $3 Billion funding increase left districts divided about how to distribute the money. All wanted the dollars. None wanted the pain of the needed corrections. When added to those who wanted to wait for the court, and those who don’t support school funding in general, there was simply no way to get the bill passed. I was probably foolish to try. In the end schools got about half the $3 Billion and another (4th) “hold harmless”.
So what is ahead? First, the schools shouldn’t bet on extensive funding change in the foreseeable future. Second, if schools want to change the system THEY must come to a consensus before they expect the legislature to do so. Third, HB1759 was a bill for a moment in time. The money available, the court resolution and other factors will make it unwise to simply refile the bill. Fourth, legislators should continue to look for ways to work toward a simpler and improved funding environment. It will never be easy. For those interested I suggest you watch the HB1759 bill layout ( legislative archives, May 15,2015, hour 2:58 of the session). I believe the relevant issues are still unchanged.
Personally, it is pretty obvious that I am frustrated that after 10 years of trying to improve school finance there has been little progress. It is time for me to move on and encourage others to find new and better funding solutions for the 5.3 million texas school children.”
Louis Malfaro, president of the 65,000-member Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, commented today on the Texas Supreme Court ruling on school finance:
“Today the Texas Supreme Court abandoned its duty to defend the interests of Texas’ 5.3 million public school students, walking away from its responsibility to confront our broken school finance system.
The deeply conservative court has held that the state system of school funding meets minimum constitutional requirements, but facts are stubborn things, and the facts remain that Texas schools are underfunded, inequitably funded, and force an inordinate share of the cost of education onto local school districts and their taxpayers, while the state fails to do its full part.
The court hides behind a facile argument of judicial restraint. Past courts have seen the wide variation in access to funding between school districts as a violation of the constitutional requirement that the state support an efficient system of public schools.
As the court acknowledged, “Few would argue that the State cannot do better.” The state got the benefit in this ruling of a court that viewed its role as being “limited to reviewing the constitutionality of the system under an extremely deferential standard.”
The burden remains on the Legislature to do its job of improving the chances of success for Texas schoolchildren. Students’ educational opportunity should not depend on their ZIP Code, and adequate and equitable funding is essential to overcome the many disadvantages a majority of our students faces before they ever set foot in our classrooms. “
Democratic Rep. Donna Howard:
“To say that I am disappointed in today’s ruling on school finance would be a great understatement, as it appears the Texas Supreme Court has set the lowest bar imaginable for constitutionality in this case.
“If there is any bright spot to this decision, it is the Court’s recognition that the current system is ‘imperfect, with immense room for improvement.’ On this point we can all agree, and it is incumbent on the Texas Legislature to better ensure that all of our students have access to an adequate and equitable public education.
“For far too long, the state has been neglecting its responsibilities, failing to pick up its fair share of the school finance tab, and pushing the costs down to overburdened local taxpayers. Last session, the Texas House took steps to remedy this through the infusion of an additional $3 billion to public education; unfortunately, the final budget saw this funding cut in half. As a member of the Article III Subcommittee for Appropriations, I will continue to push for additional dollars in the next session, and work to address our outdated funding formulas.
“It is time for lawmakers to move past partisanship, look beyond their local districts, and find a solution which works for all Texas children. The Legislature may no longer have the urgency of a court decision pushing us to address our school finance system. But the needs of our students and the future prosperity of our state demand it.”
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Our children deserve the best education in the country. Period. It’s unacceptable that Republicans continue to shortchange our children’s education. Years of court battles, research studies, and outcry from Texas parents and educators have been ignored.
“School finance may be complicated, but the fundamental questions at hand are simple: Do we believe our children deserve the best education in the country? Do we believe our children’s teachers should be fairly compensated? Do we believe our children’s classrooms should not be overcrowded? Do we believe our children should have the best tools, resources, and facilities to learn? And do we have the political courage to invest in our children’s future? Republicans have answered ‘no’ to each of these questions.
“It is clear now that Republicans do not believe every Texas child deserves a fair shot to achieve their God-given potential. Our children are the future of Texas and our economy. Not investing in them leaves both them and our economy behind. This Republican decision is dead wrong, but Texas Democrats will continue to fight everyday so that every child can get ahead.”
May 4th - 1:13 pm
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz surprised many last night when he decided to officially end his presidential campaign. The sound of ‘boos’ and ‘no’ echoed among his supporters listening to his concession speech in Indiana. But the writing was on the wall, and Cruz saw it. With Donald Trump now the presumptive GOP nominee, what’s next for Cruz and the Republican Party?
The pundits, politicians and party leaders are all weighing in. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said they will support Trump and that other Republicans should too, in order for the party to unite around a candidate to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Congratulations to my good friend Ted Cruz on a hard fought campaign,” Abbott said in a Facebook post Tuesday night. “Conservatives must unite to support the presumptive GOP nominee and prevent the Constitution from being destroyed by Hillary.”
In an interview on Capital Tonight on Monday, Patrick said he didn’t think Cruz should exit the race if he lost Indiana. But he did, and Patrick said he stands by his word to back the GOP nominee.
Whether other Texans who backed Cruz, or other candidates in the state’s March 1 Primary will follow suit, is yet to be determined. But one did not hold back.
Republican State Rep. Jason Villalba said in a TribTalk published today that “Donald Trump is a disgusting blight upon the American Experience. He is hateful and ugly and a disease to be eliminated. I will not vote for him, and I will work tirelessly to ensure that he is never the representative of the Republican Party that I stand for.”
The inevitable November match-up between Trump and Clinton will continue what’s been referred to as the craziest and most unpredictable presidential election cycle in history.
As for Cruz, here are a couple of takeaways from our political analysts Democrat Harold Cook and Republican Ted Delisi from last night’s show recapping the Indiana Primary:
On return to Senate:
Cook – “I personally think it’s dangerous for him to do that. I’m not sure it’s the best platform for somebody’s who’s strength is going around telling voters you’re an outsider.”
“I’m not sure, if he wants to have a future as a future presidential candidate, that’s the choice for him.”
Delisi – “In my mind, he’s got a really bright future but it all depends on what happens this fall. If Trump doesn’t win, I think the Senate does really nothing for Ted Cruz. Then at that point you do exactly what Mitt Romney did. You form a Super PAC, you run around to Iowa and New Hampshire, you help candidates up and down the ballot…you push out all of the national organizations that you built and you crowd out all of the type of people that could do the same type of thing.”
“There are a lot of people that it takes them more than one time to become the nominee of their party.”
On attacking Trump sooner:
Cook – “I think one of the few mistakes that Cruz’s campaign ever made was back last November when Cruz made the assumption that Trump would eventually fall apart, Cruz was going to shower Trump with kindness and therefore Trump’s supporters would gravitate toward Cruz.”
Delisi – “I bet he wish he hadn’t cozied up to him…But look betting on Trump to stumble, I think was a pretty good bet last fall. We’ve never seen anyone like Trump before in the Republican Primary.”
“In Cruz’s world, he played the best hand he played at the time.”
On why he didn’t win:
Delisi: “Something didn’t happen in South Carolina…Cruz didn’t make a case to evangelicals that the guy who’d been married three times, who’s from New York City, who’s a real estate developer, who kind of brags about his social playboy life, you can’t beat that guy in South Carolina, you’re not going to be the nominee.”
You can watch the full episode with Cook and Delisi’s analysis here: