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Texas Lawmakers Applaud Bin Laden's Demise

By Ben Philpott, KUT News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-966688.mp3

Dallas, TX – Texas lawmakers have less than a month to pass a state budget and finalize hundreds of other bills before the legislative session ends May 30th. But the gravity of death of Osama bin Laden took precedence for many Monday morning. For KUT News Ben Philpott reports.

The Texas House and Senate open each day with a prayer. This Morning, the blessings in each chamber focused on the death of Osama bin Laden during a US military assault. Pastor Russ Weaver of Sheppard's Valley cowboy church of Cleburne delivered the Senate's prayer.

Weaver: "I wrote this prayer before the actions yesterday but I think it would be good for us to give thanks to God for the protection of the people involved the operation yesterday."

It marked the beginning of an emotional morning for Senator John Whitmire and his colleagues.

Senate Floor: "Would it be proper Mr. president for us to stand as a group and give a standing ovation for everyone involved in the events and success of the last 24 hours. Yes senator Whitmire - it sure is."

One of the lawmakers was in the Pentagon on September 11th 2001 -- and suffered burns to more than 60-percent of his body. Granbury Senator Brian Birdwell received well-wishes from his colleagues throughout the morning. He said Sunday's U-S Military assault on Bin Laden's compound brought to mind Pentagon colleagues who didn't live long enough to see this day... people like Merlin German.

Birdwell: "Merlin was a 97% total body burn. He spent three years and two months in Brooke Army Medical Center's hospital before he passed away. And he passed away on his 143rd trip to the operating room."

Texas lawmakers made it a point to remind themselves that the war on terrorism is far from over. Lt. Governor David Dewhurst told reporters bin Laden's death doesn't heal the wounds left after 9-11...

Dewhurst: "But it brings some closure. And I think that's important."