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Irked by Hastings' Remark, Sessions Offers 'Defense of Texas'

In politics, the cliche is correct: Don't mess with Texas.  

A day after Rep. Alcee L. Hastings went ahead and did it  — messed with Texas, that is — Lone Star State Republicans were going after the Florida Democrat, and scoring some political points on the side. Hastings called Texas "a crazy state to begin with" in the Rules Committee Monday night.  

Rep. Michael C. Burgess of Texas stood up for his state, saying Hastings had made a "very defamatory" remark and that he would not sit before the Rules Committee and listen to it. "Fine, then you don’t have to listen, you can leave if you choose,” Hastings shot back. “I told you what I think about Texas — I wouldn’t live there for all the tea in China.”  

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions in his office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sessions and other Texans are still stewing over Hastings' anti-Texas remarks on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It was an issue made for a proud Texas Republican such as Pete Sessions, the Rules Committee chairman. Sessions wasn't in the room Monday night when the exchange went down — Virginia Foxx of North Carolina was filling in while Sessions chased down the answer to a question — but the North Dallas Republican told CQ Roll Call, "I wish I had been in that chair."  

Burgess was so fired up he wouldn't even talk to CQ Roll Call Monday night — something that hadn't changed by Tuesday morning.  

"I told you I didn't want to talk about that," Burgess said. "I'm still very mad, and I shouldn't say a thing when I'm mad."  

You wouldn't like Burgess when he's angry...  

Sessions told CQ Roll Call he'd be handling the issue. As a start, he came to the House floor Tuesday to offer a "defense of the state of Texas." "There's been a lot of talk about Texas lately — not just last night, but lately," Sessions said.  

He offered a theory for the attacks — "because we reject big liberal government" — and he shared some facts about the state:

  • In the past five years, Texas's population has grown by 1.8 million
  • More than 1.6 million veterans live in Texas
  • If Texas were its own country, it'd be the 13th largest economy in the world.

"I stand in defense of Texas, although Texas — I don't think — really needs much defense," he said.  

At the conclusion of Sessions' speech, Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, another Rules Committee member, thanked Sessions "for the wonderful commercial for Texas."  

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