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Protesters sought to ‘disrupt the legislative process,’ Cruz tells right-to-life gathering

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz became the latest politician to weigh in on the chaotic end of the special legislative session this week, when observers made so much noise that they drowned out action on an abortion bill.

“I think it is unfortunate that we saw people using tactics to try to disrupt the legislative process and to stop elected representatives from voting their principles and from voting for a policy that is supported by a large majority of Texans,” Cruz said after speaking at the second day of the National Right to Life Convention at the Hyatt Regency DFW hotel.

“I thought it was unfortunate that a handful of protesters felt they had a right to shut down the legislative process because they wanted to prevent that from being enacted.”

Cruz spoke one day after Gov. Rick Perry attended the convention and made national news by both delaying a decision about his political future and saying it’s unfortunate that state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, didn’t learn “from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential.”

Cruz said he doesn’t know Davis.

But he assumes that she was fighting for what she believes in during a more than 11-hour filibuster this week that prompted Perry to call lawmakers back to Austin to work on a second special session starting Monday.

“I certainly respect anyone who stands and fights for their principles,” Cruz said. “At the end of the day, I think the positions that she is advocating for are inconsistent with the views of the majority of Texans.”

Cruz defends his filibuster

The first special session ended after midnight Tuesday as Senate Bill 5 — intended to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require that the procedures take place in surgical centers — was on the floor. Estimates show that the measure could lead to closure of 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics.

In the waning moments of the session, chaos erupted when senators tried to take a last-minute vote after ending Davis’ filibuster. Observers in the gallery drowned out senators’ voices, preventing them from knowing whether they had voted for the measure.

Hours after the session expired, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst acknowledged that votes cast in the chaotic chamber came after midnight and were not valid.

Perry has called lawmakers back to work to address the issue, as well as transportation funding and sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.

Cruz said the filibuster was far different from the one he participated in this year when he helped fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul oppose the U.S. drone policy.

“We were filibustering to protect the sanctity of life from arbitrary government obstruction,” said Cruz, who bested Dewhurst in a hard-fought, expensive U.S. Senate battle last year.

“When Austin Democrats stood together in their filibuster, they were filibustering the ability to carry out late-term abortions, to protect the ability to take more lives.”

As a lawyer and former state solicitor general, Cruz has touted his years-long fight on behalf of the unborn, arguing legal cases ranging from defending the ban on partial-birth abortion to parental consent laws.

Moving forward

Cruz took a few minutes after his speech to talk to reporters about the comprehensive immigration reform bill that recently passed the U.S. Senate.

He said that he’s disappointed and that he does not believe it will pass the House.

“I think it was unfortunate that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats decided to force through an immigration bill that, if it became law, would only make the problem worse,” he said. “It won’t fix the broken immigration system.

“If this bill were enacted, it would only increase illegal immigration.”

But with all things — especially issues regarding the unborn — it is time to look to the future, Cruz said.

“2014 represents an incredible opportunity to retake the majority of the Senate,” he said.

But he said there’s even one thing that is more important: “Winning hearts and minds.”

“There’s nothing we need to do more than persuade our fellow Americans that there’s nothing more precious than an infant child and every infant child has a right to life — to breathe, to live.”

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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