Abortion bill debate moves to Senate; All eyes turn to immigration

Abortion bill debate moves to Senate; All eyes turn to immigration
Texas Tribune
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 7:42am

As strict new abortion measures advanced in Texas, attention shifted briefly to Washington, where the fate of immigration reform was thrown into question.

In Austin on Wednesday, the state House gave final approval to the omnibus abortion legislation still in the national spotlight. After a dramatic day of impassioned floor debate on Tuesday, when the bill won initial approval, the vote on Wednesday came amid far less fanfare, save for a handful of protesters in the gallery who were arrested for disrupting proceedings.

A Senate committee will hear the legislation today, meaning the bill will likely reach the Senate floor as soon as Friday.

Meanwhile, immigration was thrust into the spotlight on Wednesday after Republicans in the U.S. House publicly rejected the sweeping reform bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate.

After a closed-door strategy meeting with the GOP conference, top House Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, said their members would not vote for the Senate version of the bill, which included a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Instead, they said, Republicans would push for incremental fixes that would first address many conservatives' top immigration-related concern: border security.

The announcement came in spite of warnings from Boehner that inaction on immigration would hurt the House GOP. Still, Boehner repeated his pledge that he would not bring any bill to the floor without support from a majority of his caucus.

The announcement also came the same day former President George W. Bush, speaking at a naturalization ceremony at his presidential library in Dallas, urged a "positive resolution" to the immigration debate.

House Republicans' public display of mounting resistance, however, confirmed speculation that - as Politico reported earlier this week - comprehensive immigration reform may be headed toward a slow death this year.

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