Today, the Trump admin is forcing us out of the Title X program — our nation's program focused on family planning, of which we serve 40% of patients. This is a *direct attack* on Planned Parenthood and on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it. #StandWithPP #ProtectX
One day in the House of Representatives, a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Davy Crockett arose:
“Mr. Speaker–I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.
Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”
He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.
Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett gave this explanation:
“Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown . It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done.
“The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up, I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly.
“I began: ‘Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and–’
“‘Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett, I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.’
“This was a sockdolager . . . I begged him to tell me what was the matter.
“‘Well, Colonel, it is hardly worth-while to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. . . . But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.’
“‘I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.’
“‘No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown . Is that true?’
“‘Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.’
“‘It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown , neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington , no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.
“‘So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.’
“I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go to talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I was so fully convinced that he was right, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:
“‘Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.’
“He laughingly replied: ‘Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.’
“‘If I don’t,’ said I, ‘I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.’
“‘No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.’
“‘Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-by. I must know your name.’
“‘My name is Bunce.’
“‘Not Horatio Bunce?’
“‘Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me, but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend.’
“It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.
“At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had every seen manifested before.
“Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.
“I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him–no, that is not the word–I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if every one who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.
“But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted–at least, they all knew me.
“In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered up around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:
“‘Fellow-citizens–I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.’
“I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:
“‘And now, fellow-citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.
“‘It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit for it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.’
“He came upon the stand and said:
“‘Fellow-citizens–It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.’
“He went down, and there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.
“I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.
“Now, sir,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday.
“There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men–men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased–a debt which could not be paid by money–and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighted against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”
Holders of political office are but reflections of the dominant leadership–good or bad–among the electorate.
Horatio Bunce is a striking example of responsible citizenship. Were his kind to multiply, we would see many new faces in public office; or, as in the case of Davy Crockett, a new Crockett.
For either the new faces or the new Crocketts, we must look to the Horatio in ourselves!
Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood's acting president and CEO, said the organization's nationwide network of health centers will remain open and work to make up for the loss of federal money.
Calling the Trump administration's "gag rule" both "unnecessary and dangerous," Johnson said on a conference call with reporters that "we believe that the Trump administration is doing this as an attack on reproductive health care and to keep providers like Planned Parenthood from serving our patients. "
"For nearly half a century, Title X has ensured that those struggling to make ends meet or who don’t have health insurance can access services like birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment in their communities," Johnson said.
Johnson predicted that many low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood, which is the nation's largest abortion provider, will "delay or go without care."
"This is *direct attack* on Planned Parenthood and on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it," Planned Parenthood tweeted, saying the Trump administration was "forcing" the group out of the Title X program.
"Some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions — having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it — and they are abandoning their obligations to serve patients under the program," the department said.
Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said that "taxpayer money no longer going to the nation’s largest abortion provider will now be available for community health centers across Montana.” He noted that there are far more such health centers than Planned Parenthood clinics in Montana.
State lawmakers asked the Rangers to step in and investigate what was really said in a meeting between the Speaker of the House and the CEO of Empower Texans.
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House General Investigating Committee voted Monday to ask the Public Integrity Unit of the Texas Rangers to investigate the June 12, 2019, conversation between Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen (R-Angelton) and CEO of Empower Texans Michael Sullivan.
The Texas Rangers confirmed to KVUE they will open the investigation and confer with prosecutors.
"Based on a request made during the House General Investigating Committee hearing today, the Texas Rangers are conducting an initial inquiry into this matter and will consult with the appropriate prosecutor," a spokesperson from Texas DPS said.
Shortly after calling the public hearing to order, Chair Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) announced there wouldn't be any testimony.
"There will be no testifying witnesses today and only members of the committee will be participating in the proceedings," Meyer said.
Then, less than two minutes after the hearing was called to order, the five Representatives who make up the committee went into executive session.
"This public meeting was supposed to be about transparency, but two minutes in and now they're in the backroom again," said State Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton).
AUSTIN -- The head of the Texas House’s Republican caucus is the first casualty of a botched and controversial secret meeting that Speaker Dennis Bonnen held with a conservative activist.
On Friday, Lubbock GOP Rep. Dustin Burrows, a three-term House member, who emerged as one of Bonnen’s top lieutenants last fall, resigned as chairman of the House Republican caucus, effective immediately.
Bonnen issued a statement following the announcement: "Dustin Burrows is my friend and was a strong leader for the caucus. I respect his decision and I remain committed to strengthening our majority."
As has been true for weeks, Burrows issued no statement.
Official word of his stepping down went out to House Republicans from the caucus executive committee, said Humble Rep. Dan Huberty, one of the five executive committee members.
Fort Worth Rep. Stephanie Klick, who was caucus vice chairwoman, succeeds Burrows, Huberty said. "And then we have a vacancy for vice chair, and we'll have an election" to fill that spot by Sept. 13, he said. It will be conducted by mail or electronically.
MCKENZIE TAYLOR JULY 26, 2019
Yesterday, the CEO of Empower Texans, a prominent conservative activist organization, published a story on the organization’s website detailing a closed-door meeting between the grassroots leader, Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) and Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton).
Michael Quinn Sullivan alleges that Bonnen listed ten incumbent GOP House members he wanted the conservative group to target in 2020, and in exchange, would grant Empower Texans coveted House press credentials.
In Sullivan’s piece, he lists Reps. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio), Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd), Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches), Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), Kyle Kacal (R-College Station), Stan Lambert (R-Abilene), John Raney (R-College Station), Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton), and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) as the incumbents Bonnen saw as expendable.
Sullivan writes that Burrows, chairman of the House Republican Caucus and the powerful Ways and Means Committee, said the list was “about those who voted against the ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying.”
Senate bill 29, the watered-down version of a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying that was originally filed at the beginning of the legislative session, passed the Senate and successfully made it to the House floor. However, the bill died at the hands of Democrats and a select group of Republicans who voted against the measure.
Rep. Trent Ashby, one of the Republicans on Bonnen’s supposed list, essentially guaranteed the death of the bill after he amended it to include only 20 of Texas’ 254 counties.
Though 25 Republicans voted against passage of the bill, 15 of those weren’t included in the target list allegedly outlined by the Speaker in Sullivan’s piece — Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco), Keith Bell (R-Forney), Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson), Dan Flynn (R-Canton), Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), Ken King (R-Canadian), John Kuempel (R-Seguin), Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land), Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), Four Price (R-Amarillo), John Smithee (R-Amarillo), Lynn Stucky (R-Denton), Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston), and John Zerwas (R-Richmond).
Most of the legislators on the alleged target list in Sullivan’s piece represent largely safe Republican districts, meaning a win for Republicans would be likely regardless of who the nominee is.
Perhaps the most intriguing accusation leveled against the Speaker is the “quid pro quo” offer of supplying media credentials to Empower Texans’ staff in exchange for the harnessing of the group’s political muscle.
In a move that exasperated many legacy media outlets, Empower Texans was given media credentials in the Texas Senate for the first time this legislative session. The group’s publication, called Texas Scorecard, follows legislative action at the capitol and disseminates that content to their followers.
Press passes give their team of writers a front-row seat to the action on the Senate floor as they, according to a statement found on their website, seek “to educate and inspire Texans to exercise effective citizenship and advance self-governance.”
Critics of this move claimed it muddied the water between what qualifies as a “lobby group” and what qualifies as a “press organization,” and some contended it was a political move for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who has benefited financially from the group previously.
However, the organization did not receive the same courtesy in the Texas House.
According to the article, Sullivan wrote a letter of refusal to Bonnen following the meeting, who then responded with a letter of his own. In the Bonnen letter, which is printed on official state letterhead bearing Bonnen’s name and signature, the Speaker denies Sullivan’s claims that he was offered credentials in a quid pro quo exchange.
“Your suggestion that either I or Mr. Burrows requested that you, or anyone associated with you, ‘withhold spending and all other support for political attacks’ with respect to any member of the House in exchange for anything is mistaken.”
“No offer was made to you of any kind, and thus, there is nothing for you or anyone associated with you to ‘reject.’”
Sullivan’s allegation comes after Bonnen has publicly stated he would not campaign against any sitting member of the House, regardless of party affiliation.
In May, Bonnen told KXAN that he hoped members would, “stick to the tradition of the Texas House, and that is that no sitting member of the House campaigns against another sitting member of the House.”
Bonnen doubled down, citing the “tradition” as a reason for the House’s legislative success.
“What makes the House unique and successful, in the country, not simply here but across the country, is that we are bipartisan. And the central component of our bipartisanship is that you don’t see sitting members of the House campaigning against another sitting member of the House.”
Bonnen even recently launched a PAC of his own called “Texas Leads,” aimed exclusively at helping Republican incumbents secure reelection and funded with $3 million from his own campaign coffers.
In a press release detailing the intent of the PAC, Bonnen emphasized the importance of reelecting the Republican majority going into what could prove to be a contentious election cycle in 2020.
“If we are to continue building upon these successes in future legislative sessions, we must do everything in our power to reelect the Republican legislators who made them a reality.”
On the last day of the legislative session, Bonnen made waves with comments made to the Houston Chronicle regarding certain conservative grassroots organizations, including Empower Texans, stating that, “They aren’t worth responding to.”
Currently, Sullivan’s story is a tale of two competing and contradictory accounts. And it remains to be seen if any political fallout will occur as a result.
But if Sullivan’s account is proven accurate, the idea that the sitting Speaker of the Texas House would be willing to dangle press credentials in exchange for a hefty political favor will likely be difficult for anyone of any political persuasion to ignore.