QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I mean, all we gotta do is tinkle and get out.”
— Eight-year-old Marilyn Morrison to members of the Senate State Affairs Committee, according to the Texas Tribune. Morrison, a transgender girl from Grapevine, was one of the 400 people signed up to testify Tuesday in the first public hearing on Senate Bill 6, otherwise known as the bathroom bill. More on how that went later.
Could We Get A Ted Talk?
As lawmakers begin to weigh in on the Republican replacement for Obamacare, Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has been noticeably—and, as the Houston Chronicle put it, “uncharacteristically”—silent about the step forward for one of the cornerstones of his 2016 presidential campaign. In an op-ed for Politico just last week, Cruz laid out “two overarching principles, three concrete steps and six areas of consensus” on how Congress should proceed to repeal and replace Obamacare. He also joined fellow Senate conservatives including Senator Rand Paul in raising questions about early drafts of the bill, which Paul called “Obamacare lite.” But now that House Republicans have actually introduced the health care proposal? Crickets from Cruz. As the Chronicle notes, Cruz told reporters that he is “still studying the details of the bill,” which was unveiled on Monday. “I am working closely with members of the House, members of the Senate and the administration to pass a repeal bill that honors our commitment to repeal Obamacare, that lowers costs, that expands access and choices and patient control over your own healthcare,” he said, offering no specifics about the effectiveness of the repeal, or if it aligned with his plans. As Cruz’s Senate colleagues gave lengthy statements of dissent against the bill, which some say does not go far enough, Cruz only said that he has “significant concerns” about it, but is open to negotiation. It’s strange for Cruz, who once shutdown the government over Obamacare, to remain largely mum on the subject. The bill, known as the American Health Care Act, has split conservatives, and Cruz’s fellow Texas lawmakers are no exception. U.S. Senator John Cornyn called it a “major step in the right direction,” but the legislation got a lukewarm reception from U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert, who said that conservatives have a lot of work to do if they want to deliver on promises to repeal Obamacare. Texas U.S. Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had a direct hand in crafting the legislation, going so far as to call it “his bill.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
A charter bus full of Texas tourists was hit by a freight train on Tuesday, killing four and injuring dozens of others in Biloxi, Mississippi. Of the fifty people aboard the bus, 27 of the passengers were from the Bastrop Senior Center, according to Time Warner Cable News. Forty people were hurt in the crash, seven critically, according to News 4 San Antonio. Witnesses said that the bus appeared to stall on the train tracks, but it wasn’t immediately clear if it was due to mechanical issues or the crossing’s steep embankment. After colliding, the train pushed the bus about three hundred feet before coming to a stop with the bus still on the tracks, and it took almost two hours to evacuate all of the survivors. As News 4 reported, the week-long trip was organized by the Bastrop Senior Center, with plans to make numerous stops at Gulf Coast casinos. It was scheduled to return home on Saturday after a trip to New Orleans.
The Wee Hours
After beginning early Tuesday morning, the first public hearing for Senate Bill 6, the bathroom bill, stretched into the night and the wee hours of Wednesday morning before concluding. At 6:14 a.m., state Senator Jane Nelson tweeted that the Senate State Affairs Committee’s hearing lasted until 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, 21 hours after the hearing began. But despite thirteen hours of public comment that the Associated Press notes was dominated by transgender-rights supporters opposing the bill, the committee advanced the proposal to the full Senate in a 7-1 vote. The bill, which has been championed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, would require people to use the public bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex. As the Associated Press reports, the bill faces opposition in the House.
Broken at the Border
Doubling down on an idea that first began circulating over the weekend, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a group of reporters in Dallas that he is considering splitting Central American families at the border in an attempt to stop the surging flow of migrants. “The parents that come with kids are manipulating the system because they know up ’til this point that we will keep the families together,” Kelly said at a Dallas DHS office, according to the Dallas Morning News. “As this word gets out that we’re considering it and maybe we’ll implement it, that will add again to this factor of people not coming.” Currently, women and children detained at the border are assigned to detention centers together, two of which are in Texas, as they wait for a judge to decide their case. Under Kelly’s proposal, parents would be detained, while children would be put in the government’s care or sent to live with U.S. relatives.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
No, Sam Houston State University is not a Marxist training ground. Texas Monthly
Texas State Troopers seized $7 million in cocaine during a Texarkana traffic stop. Houston Chronicle
The Texas Lege’s father-son battle over the bathroom bill. The Washington Post
How your license plate can help fund Texas environmental efforts. San Antonio Express-News
Hunter involved in Presidio County shooting turns himself in. Big Bend Sentinel