Lame Duck Drama

The drama continues in Washington, D.C. as the lame duck congress tries to force through controversial legislation that has been postponed until the very end of the session. The House, after much drama on both sides of the aisle, passed the compromise bill which is a measure worked out between Senate Republicans and President Obama to prevent tax increases in January.

However, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s attempt to force through a last minute trillion-dollar budget, with no debate, failed in dramatic fashion. This happened as nine Republican Senators, who had earlier agreed to support the bill, withdrew their support because of public opposition.

Senate Democrats announced that they would work to present bills in the last few days before Christmas, to repeal the law limiting homosexuals from serving in the military and a bill to give amnesty to one and a half million illegal immigrant students. The Democrat majority party demonstrates what its priorities are through these actions and upholds reasoning that this country used in rejecting its leadership in the most recent elections.

They Just Don’t Get It

While the tax compromise bill, which would prevent a tax increase in January, passed the Senate easily, it is facing growing opposition from conservatives who argue that not having a deal would be better than passing this bill at this time. Many prefer to allow the Republican majority in the U.S. House, next January, to not only fix the tax issue but also make it permanent instead of for a two-year period. Polls are revealing that support for the “deal” is dwindling quickly.

To make matters worse, the Senate Democratic leadership presented an omnibus spending bill yesterday that proposes to keep the government funded. Since Democrats have failed to pass any budget or funding bill to this point, there is perceived pressure to pass something during the lame duck session. Instead of passing a continuing resolution for a short period, as the House did, Senate Democrats rolled out a bill that will spend $1.2 trillion next year and includes over 6,000 earmarks and a billion dollars of funding for Obamacare. This bill would keep Republicans in the next Congress from undoing the measure by defunding it.

While Senator Coburn and Senator DeMint have announced plans to require the 2,000-page omnibus spending bill to be read aloud as a means of killing it, some Republicans have announced their support, including some who will not be returning in the new Congress. If the bill is not passed by Saturday, the government will have no funding and will cease operations. Democrats are hoping that Republicans will agree to the bill so that such a result can be avoided. It would be wise for Republicans to call their bluff and force the Democrats to accept a continuing resolution for short-term funding until the new Congress gets to town.

The Feds vs. America

The federal government’s war against Texas and other states continues to escalate. As I have written on several occasions this year, the Obama administration is using the agencies it directs to accomplish by rule what it cannot accomplish through the legislative process.

The states, however, are pushing back. Texas and other states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Now a Federal Court of Appeals has ruled against the states in a legal battle that will continue to push back against the heavy hand of this government that is trying, as it has done in Louisiana, to institute rules that will kill jobs and hurt citizens.

In another battle against federal control, a Virginia judge ruled yesterday that the provision requiring every American to purchase healthcare insurance under “Obama care” was unconstitutional. Another suit brought by 20 states, including Texas, awaits a decision in Florida. Many believe that the judge in that case may reach a similar decision. Ultimately, the issue will reach the U. S. Supreme Court for a final decision on the constitutionality of the law.

Meanwhile, polls are showing that the American people want Health Care Reform law repealed by 60%, and pressure is building on the new Republican majority in the U.S. House to repeal, defund, or take whatever measures necessary to kill it.

The war between the federal government and the people is far from over, and it appears likely that we will see this battle continue to escalate over the next two years.

Intimidation and Illegal Hearing

The race for Speaker of the Texas House continues to escalate as more and more citizens contact their State Representative to express their desire for a conservative speaker. Last week the Liberty Institute issued a press release pointing out that a hearing by the House Ethics Committee to investigate allegations that Speaker Straus’s supporters had threatened to redistrict those who did not support him out of office was illegal.

The chairman of the House Ethics Committee had earlier said that citizens who were encouraging voters to call their legislators to urge a vote against Straus for speaker were violating the law by seeking to “intimidate” legislators. However, he failed to raise that issue in the hearing.

While Joe Straus’s supporters continue to try to mislead the public by making the case that he is a conservative and should be supported because he says the House will be more conservative this session, his opponents point to the historical record of his time in office. After his election as Speaker in 2009, Straus told conservative leaders that he was a moderate and not a friend on their issues. He was true to his word.

THE CASE AGAINST JOE STRAUS FOR TEXAS SPEAKER

Selected in 2009 as Speaker By 65 Democrats & Only 11 Republicans:

Taxpayer protection measures:

  • Joe Straus named Rene Oliveira chairman of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.
  • Taxpayer protection legislation, including revenue and appraisal caps, was killed in the Ways & Means Committee.
  • Chairman Oliveira spoke to the Texas Association of Counties on March 10 (the middle of the 2009 session) and the March 12, 2009, TAC News publication reported “Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) – chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee – spoke to a standing-room-only group of county officials, guests, and staff at the TAC Tuesday morning legislative breakfast March 10. He strongly declared that appraisal process reform bills in his committee will not be amended to include stricter revenue caps on local governments. He went on to say he would not allow any revenue caps or appraisal caps to be added to bills. He said the legislature will be looking at new revenue-raising issues in 2011.”

Strong Planned Parenthood/NARAL Support:

  • 2007-NARAL gave Joe Straus a 100% approval rating.
  • 2008-Planned Parenthood gave Joe Straus $1,000 in 2008 by Winning for Women PAC, and political action committee (PAC) for Planned Parenthood of San Antonio. Details here.
  • 2009-Planned Parenthood “thanked” Joe Straus in their newsletter for his “tireless efforts.”

Numerous Pro-Life leaders oppose Joe Straus as the Texas Speaker of the House:

  • Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life opposes Joe Straus as Texas Speaker.
  • Carol Everett of The Heidi Group opposes Joe Straus as Texas Speaker.
  • Cathie Adams, former GOP Chair and Texas Eagle Forum liaison, opposes Joe Straus.
  • Margaret Hotze of Life Advocates opposes Joe Straus as Texas Speaker.
  • Ann Hettinger of Concerned Women for America opposes Joe Straus as Texas Speaker.
  • Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute opposes Joe Straus as Texas Speaker.

Choose Life License Plate Bill Denied:

  • This bill never received a regular hearing because Democrat Chair Joe Pickett opposed the bill.
  • This bill only received a subcommittee hearing, and no vote was ever taken on this bill in committee; instead, extraordinary measures had to be taken over and over to keep it active in the process by amending similar language to other bills, and still it ultimately did not pass and become law.
  • Straus appointed Joe Pickett to this committee.
  • This bill had bipartisan support (83 of 150 Members had signed on to support it).
  • http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=HB109

Sonogram Bill Denied:

Joe Straus Supported Planned Parenthood-backed Sex Education; HB 1842 (2007)

  • Joe Straus was a coauthor of the so-called “Texas Prevention First Act,” a Planned Parenthood bill that would have changed how sex education is taught. This bill would have prevented schools from teaching about the actual failure rates for condoms and contraception with “human use reality rates” so that students would be informed and know that condoms can be more unreliable than advertised. Planned Parenthood had HB 1842 as one of its top priorities to pass in 2007. This bill was also supported by NARAL/Pro-Choice America, NOW, and the ACLU of Texas. http://www.ppgmv.org/ppaustin/lobby-day-2007.htm

Numerous pro-life/pro-family groups opposed HB 1842:

Denial of Voting Rights on State Board of Education:

  • Joe Straus is considering changing SBOE to an appointed board, taking away the elected SBOE.
  • The elected majority (predominantly conservative Republicans) recently adopted curriculum standards to promote academic freedom in the science classroom and teaching about our founding fathers, the U.S. Constitution, and our religious heritage, and military and political heroes. This elected board even had to protect the teaching of Christmas and Rosh Hashanah, alongside other religious holidays.
  • Regardless of Joe Straus’s criticism and the criticism of the Texas SBOE by liberal Democrats, the Republican-dominated board went from 10 Republican members to 11 Republican members as a result of the November 2010 elections.
  • http://startelegram.typepad.com/politex/2009/03/straus-look-at-changing-state-school-board-electionsmaybe-more.html

Committee Chair Split Under Straus:

  • Under Craddick in 2007: 31 Republican chairs, 9 Democrat chairs
  • Under Straus in 2009: 18 Republican chairs, 16 Democrat chairs.
  • Straus Committee chairs went down in conservative rating by Young Conservatives of Texas
  • http://www.yct.org/files/Committee%20Chairs%20Letter%20with%20Comparison%20Chart.pdf

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Community Considers Joe Straus a Friend:

  • “Right now, Joe Straus may be the LGBT community’s best friend in the Texas Legislature.”

Leadership Matters

In the wake of the election of huge Republican majorities in the U. S. House and Texas House, there have been, as always, new elections for leadership in both political parties. I find it interesting that some wring their hands and talk about division and conflict when this happens. Come to think of it that’s exactly what those who challenged Republican incumbents in the primary were accused of–causing conflict and dissension that would “hurt the party and our chances to win in the general election.” However, the voters get to choose, and as has been well documented, they decided to make some very significant changes. How is it that when Republicans have elections for new party leadership that is divisive?

David Barton posted an online video pointing out Speaker Joe Straus’s liberal record, and yesterday Straus responded with a video of his own that was short on issues. As I have said before, while Empower Texans and Americans for Prosperity continue to oppose Straus because of his liberal fiscal positions, social conservatives oppose him because of his pro-abortion positions that have earned him a 100 percent rating from NARAL and praise from Planned Parenthood. The homosexual lobby, Equality Texas, which supports gay marriage, also supports Straus.

Yesterday freshmen State Representatives Erwin Cain and James White of East Texas announced their support of Ken Paxton for speaker as did Van Taylor of North Texas. State Representative Stephani Carter lashed out at the TEA Party supporters who are pressuring her to withdraw her support of Straus.

Some legislators have responded to constituent calls urging them to support a conservative for speaker by saying things like, “It is unfortunate to me that after taking such a strong majority this election cycle there is such conflict among Republican members of the Texas House…. Please keep in mind that while you are being flooded with information, the election of the speaker of the Texas House is not a personality race, neither is it a conflict between conservatives and liberals. All three candidates are good conservative men …” Well this state representative got part of it right; it’s not a personality contest. However, the race is between Straus, who two years ago called himself a moderate, opposed conservative legislation and conservatives Ken Paxton and Warren Chisum, both of whom have unimpeachable conservative records.

Keep calling and writing to your legislators, and when they tell you this stuff, respond and point to Straus’s record on both fiscal and social issues.