Compromising Positions: Texas GOP and Tea Parties Find Their Fortunes Reversed in Ft. Worth

dale huls

Dale Huls

A funny thing happened at the 2014 Republican Party of Texas (RPT) convention last weekend. The grassroots tea parties and the Republican establishment were forced to compromise on an immigration plank in the Republican Party of Texas Platform. And the Republican elites are wailing and gnashing their teeth!

You see, “compromise” is what’s supposed to happen when the establishment wins and the tea party loses. Indeed, we are constantly being lectured about party unity. That was one of Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri’s main opening messages to the convention – Party Unity. Sitting in the auditorium as a tea party member, I felt that this was the establishment laying down the terms of surrender. We are told that our enemies are too dangerous for the tea parties to not get in line after our intra-party struggles. When the Platform Committee Chairman, Tom Mechler introduced the RPT platform to the delegates, he stressed “compromise.” Mr. Mechler told us that everyone wouldn’t be able to get all they wanted in the platform, but for the sake of party unity, we should adopt the “perfected” document and move on. Indeed, messages of unity and compromise were the mantra of the day…for a Republican establishment that expected to win.

And why shouldn’t the Republican elites and corporate interests expect to win? They knew that the conservative tea party movement was coming to do battle over the “Texas Solution”. They saw tea party activists preparing for an ideological battle over principles and the rule of law. They monitored the social media posts, tweets and blogs. They understood that this convention would be less well attended than other recent conventions and activists were coming in numbers. With this understanding and foresight, the elitists Republican Party apparatchiks began a counter-campaign to protect the Texas Solution and keep it in the platform. Mailers went out with conservative sounding names claiming that the Texas Solution was necessary for outreach to Hispanic groups and avoid a demographic catastrophe in future elections with the promise of free jobs and legal residence in the United States (in other words – Amnesty). Newspaper articles were written, blogs posted, and surrogates were organized to counter the growing tea party threat. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples began contacting tea party groups and convention delegate trainings to push a rewritten Texas Solution plan that was actually more lenient than the original. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and amnesty lobbyist Norman Adams continued selling the Texas Solution’s guest worker program. A large Texas Solution pavilion in the convention center’s Exhibition Hall was purchased. And finally, the temporary platform committee was staffed with a majority of members sympathetic to a guest worker program and provided food and drinks by Norman Adams.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, the best laid plans of mice and Rinos often go astray when the full weight of the grassroots show up and work for a common goal. As soon as the temporary platform committee went into public session and testimony, it became obvious that the tea party was there to fight against any immigration plank that offered defacto amnesty via a guest worker program. Tea party operatives stayed day and night fighting to get rid of the guest worker language and report out the proceedings to the grassroots network at the convention. Extreme pressure was put on the committee to such an extent that Todd Staples’ rewritten Texas Solution never saw the light of day. By the end of the temporary platform committee’s stint, the immigration platform plank had been completely rewritten and the guest worker program language was changed to a “provisional visa” program (same song, different tune). That night in the Senate District caucuses, a few pro-amnesty temporary committee members were voted out by the grassroots and replaced for Friday’s Permanent Platform committee. With new committee members, a new plank was offered based on Senator Dan Patrick’s website on border security and immigration. In fact, when this amendment was offered, the committee vote was a 15 – 15 tie for which the Chairman Mechler declined to break. An amendment in a tie vote is NOT adopted. Consequently, seven committee members signed a “minority report” that took the amendment to the convention floor as substitution amendment and presented to all the convention delegates. Since this minority report still contained some objectionable language that needed removing and the remaining doubt that it would be accepted, the grassroots hurriedly prepared amendments to be filed before the 6pm Friday deadline (note: that only filed amendments may be considered on the convention floor under normal rules). These amendments dealt with fixing the minority report language or removing the provisional visa language and of the approximately 200 amendments filed about three-quarters addressed the immigration plank.

At this point, the grassroots felt they had a fighting chance at replacing the Texas Solution immigration plank with a common sense immigration plank based on the rule of law. As the convention came to order on the last day, a grassroots network of Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and email spontaneously arose. Numerous activists were prepared to whip the votes by working the delegates and holding up yes/no signs indicating which way the vote should go. And then came the moment, everybody in the convention was waiting for. Mark Ramsey, a member of the Permanent Platform Committee, came out on the center stage to introduce the immigration minority report to the delegation. However, after introducing a motion to substitute the minority report for the proposed immigration plank reported out of committee, Mr. Ramsey started to discuss the committee’s proposed plank in detail. At this point, uneasiness settled on the anti-amnesty supporters. Why wasn’t he talking about the minority report? Why wasn’t he promoting the minority report was a much better stance on immigration? And then came the shocker, Ramsey offered a new amendment to the existing plank as a “trigger” for the provisional visa program and therefore a “fix” for the original plank. The grassroots immediately felt betrayed. It now looked like the minority report had been set up for failure. The problem was Mr. Ramsey’s amendment did make the plank better but it left intact the guest worker/ provisional visa program. Delegates wanted to know what happened and how they should vote. And then parliamentary confusion began, was debate cut off or was it not? Were we voting on the amendment or the minority report or both? Once the muddle was cleared up, the amendment to add a trigger was approved and the minority report failed.

Despair fell over the no amnesty delegates and activists. All of the filed amendments addressing the minority report were no longer relevant. And a last chance attempt was made to strip the provisional visa program from the proposed platform plank. This too ultimately failed. It seems the establishment Republican supporters of the Texas Solution had won again. It looked like the provisional visa language would stay with the only “compromise” being the trigger amendment first offered by Ramsey. The grassroots had fought so hard. It seemed that money and manipulation had once again trumped conservative principles.

But wait all was not lost, from the floor microphones arose a single voice offering a motion to amend the immigration plank by offering the delegates another option. Peter Batura had written his own compromise amendment and had correctly filed it the previous day. In his amendment, he kept the textual language providing rationale from the proposed immigration plank and took the best specific bullet points offered in the minority report to craft a complete plank on his own. It would be an understatement to say that both sides of the issue were stunned at this development. Activists and establishment alike scrambled to read the amendment. Confusion reigned throughout the hall. As the reading went, the amendment read exactly like the proposed plank for the first three paragraphs. Each side asked “Was this a good thing or a bad thing?” Within minutes the leading activists decided that this was a strong alternative to the existing language and the word started going out via text messaging and emails imploring the body to vote yes on this amendment. The pro-guest worker/provisional worker crowd also began to whip their votes against. In fact, in Dan Patrick’s home Senate District (SD 7), Mark Ramsey, Valerie Swanson, and David Riddle managed to place their delegation solidly against the floor amendment (36 – 385). One member of the SD 7 delegation related that “a delegate in the section next to SD 7 asked me why SD 7 voted Democrat? I was so embarrassed…”

As the vote on the floor amendment took place, Chairman Munisteri called for a voice vote which was inconclusive according to the chair. In fact, Steve Munisteri did a remarkably fair job in understanding the will of the convention by calling numerous standing votes to visibly assess votes by the delegation. This vote was no different. However, if we thought the floor amendment was an unlooked for boon and a last minute reprieve from defeat, it was surely divine providence in what happened next. When Chairman Munisteri called for a “standing” vote, he sought confirmation of the vote from others on the stage. Consequently, both the convention Parliamentarian and Secretary answered that they had each seen a different outcome of the standing vote. With a disagreement on the stage Chairman Munisteri was unwilling to call the vote himself and determined that a “roll call” vote was in order. This was exactly what the grassroots wanted. Win or lose, a tallied vote of record was had been sought to document the vote and remove any doubt of vote unlike what occurred in the original Texas Solution vote in 2012.

Now, with each SD voting their full voting strength, the results of the roll call vote was 4763 for the motion and 3735 against. By over a 1000 votes, the tea party position had carried the day. By an approximate 60 to 40% split, the Texas Republican Party had elected to discard an unworkable “market-based” approach to immigration reform. Emphasis was refocused in the party platform to address border security and the rule of law. The new immigration plank was indeed a compromise position by taking the best of the committee’s proposed plank and the minority report and blending them together into a seamless document addressing immigration issues.

Unfortunately, the establishment and corporate interests seem to be not so interested in “party unity” after the platform was adopted and the convention closed. Norman Adams, the high dollar guest worker lobbyist, left insisting that the grassroots had set the Party back 10 years and this was the work of white supremacists. Please! It’s bad enough that the liberal press says these things about the GOP grassroots and tea party, but for other “Republicans” to say it is not advancing party unity after a hard fought intra-party disagreement.

Indeed, both sides knew the stakes were high in Texas regarding the immigration plank. It was suspected that the Texas Solution was intended to give cover to moderates such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie regarding their own immigration stances. Additionally, it was suspected that Speaker Boehner would use the Texas Solution as a further justification for an amnesty vote this summer. Because if Texas, the reddest of red states, can support a guest worker/provisional visa program for all illegal aliens then it must be alright for the Republican-led House to do the same. However, after Saturday’s vote, moderate Republican 2016 candidates must stand on their own without the cover of Texas Republicans and John Boehner must reach for other justifications in his push for amnesty.

So this is what “compromise” feels like when your positions, by and large, carry the day. As demonstrated by the comments, posts, tweets, and blogs in social media, it appears the grassroots can get comfortable with this kind of compromise. However, it is up to the political elite and corporate interests in the Republican Party to see if they can practice what they preach. Will they get in line and defend the party platform? Will they join forces because our enemies are too dangerous for us to be divided? Will they follow the advice of Tom Mechler who called for the sake of party unity to adopt the “perfected” document and move on? After all, he is the one who said everyone would not be able to get all they wanted in the platform. Will Republicans across America support what Texas has done to reject a backdoor amnesty program and support a more common sense and rule of law approach? I wonder.

Saddle up Texas!

Dale Huls

Dale Huls is a founding member of the Clear Lake Tea Party.  

 

 

Comments

  1. plindow says

    Thank you, Dale. I was there and you are right. It was confusing. I still couldn’t explain it.

  2. says

    Curious that the Tea Party is fighting over some party platform with so-called RINO’s, establishment Republicans, “Republicans elites” ad nauseum, that most will not read.

    Your ace in the hole is Dan Patrick getting elected Lt. Governor. The Texas Patriots PAC, a Tea Party superPAC, helped nominate an arch conservative slate of candidates for state offices.

    .http://vulturepolitics.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/blood-red-texas-tea-party-pac-elected-their-slate-of-candidates/

    No doubt they’ll be back in November to finish the job.

    The Republican Party may achieve a super majority in the State Senate the next legislative session. Most of those being Tea Party Republicans.

    Blood red Texas. That’s what the Tea Party wants. It will probably be what they get.

    So why are you still complaining about some party platform?

  3. Mark Ramsey says

    Dale, in case you and the others haven’t noticed, the “as passed” language also has a visa/guest worker program. Overall it is actually closer to the 2012 “Texas Solution” language than the platform committee language after the trigger amendment improvement passed overwhelmingly. Once that amendment passed we had TWO GOOD PLANK packages on the floor, and I was OK with either at that point The real damage to the committee language occurred when Norm Adams stepped up to the microphones and supported it. You could sense the air coming out of the proverbial balloon at that point…

  4. says

    Dale,

    I appreciate your insight and dedication to informing us about what’s going on. Do you maintain your own blog or social media of some sort? I tried visiting the Clear Lake Tea Party website, but it doesn’t seem like it’s updated on a regular basis. At least the blog isn’t.

    • says

      Victor, my wife says I will have to start my own blog. Since is better armed and a better shot, I will probably do as she says.

  5. Marc Young says

    I am sorry but I have to violently disagree with Dale on the purpose for the Texas Solution and the Platform Committees proposed language in the Platform. I am really starting to wonder what the hell the Tea Party stands FOR. It apparently stands AGAINST any and all things that might possibly help this state ease away from the class division that the current administration is trying to promote. Dale I was there. I served as Sargent at Arms for the Platfrom Committee for both the Temporary and the Permanent Committees. Yes there were two factions, one fighting for the Texas Solution, and one against. However, I found them trying to work to come to a workable solution in the committee. Then some tried to cram down Dan Patrick’s throat what he had used in his original campaign (language from his website calling him out by name) to win the primary and the runoff. That was the language that died because of the tie. It is my belief that Dan Patrick and the Republican Party may have to back off some from the strong stance Dan had to take to get the Tea Party’s support. He will have to do that to get elected because it will take votes from many independents that are less fervent than the Tea Party. I think some on the committee were trying to give Dan some cover to allow that to occur. I think your Tea Party gents wanted to tie him to a stake and not let him walk any of those positions back.

    Acting as Sgt at Arms in the Immigration Subcommittee, I had to ask two individuals to leave the meetings one at the request of the subcommittee chairman for continuing to interrupt the hispanic speakers giving testimony. The other was more serious. A person that I can only believe was a white supremecist was reported to have told a hispanic lady after she had spoken “You disgust me and I think you ought to be shot.” After we removed that individual, and asked him to repeat what he had said, obviously he admitted the first part of the statement and not the last. I am told he was from SD 17, but I did not ask his name and since had only two unsubstantiated statements had to let him continue on his way. The Republican Party has no room for such intolerance. If we are to be successful in reversing much of the damage done by the current administration we must win not only the Texas elections but national elections as well.

    The root cause of the immigration problem is not lack of a strong border enforcement, it is lack of enforcement of the laws at the local level. The committee had included language against Sanctuary Cities. An important plank. A strong Visa program, with no promise of amnesty is the only answer. We must put in place a practical solution that will work. Only by putting in a place this program to identify all guest workers can we hope to get the courts to allow for the remainder that refuse to be identified to be arrested and deported to their country of origin. As an engineer trying to hire more process engineers, I supported the Texas Solution. I cannot find enough qualified candidates. I try to fill with American engineers but we are just not graduating enough and training enough. If we do not, our engineering services will go overseas because the S. Koreans, Chinese, and Indians are training more engineers, will work cheaper and they will set up shop in K.L., Indonesia or SIngapore where work visas can be obtained. H1-B are very limited and only possible to get for about 3 days to a week each year.

    My best analogy of why you are wrong on the securing the border first before allowing any guest worker program is the example of feral hogs. As a rancher in Texas we try to do everything we can to keep them out. They do damage our pastures and seem to multiply to match the available food supply. You can shoot them, trap them and move them but it seems once they are there these have no impact. Studies by the Ag Extension service has demonstrated they just multiply back to the available level of food supply very rapidly thus negating the effort at their removal. Just like the feral hogs the answer to the illegal immigration problem is to cut off the available job and assistance supply. That was why the Texas Solution also had a plank for a requirement of no public assistance for those on the guest worker visa program. Some have claimed that once here the Democrats will just waive thsoe requirements. If they can waive those requirements they cna just grant them the amnesty can’t they.

    Unless you soon want to follow California and see Texas turned from Red to Blue by the swing votes of the independents that are turned off by the facist tactics of the Tea Party, then the Tea Party better go back to its roots and work on more conservative fiscal stances and not appearing to be ethni-phobic. If Texas goes blue you and your fellow Tea Party members will be blamed and those of us in the Republican Party trying to help untie this Gordian Knot that has been created by the administration will be ineffective.

    If you really want to work on something that needs to be changed go after the Supreme Court decision that allowed Congress to define Hispanics, which is an ethnic group, to be treated the same as a minority race which started back in the 70’s under the Carter Administration. The 15th Amendment on voting Rights had that specific term (ethniticity) deleted in the language by Congress in the reconilliation between the House version and the Senate version and it was only by the Courts using the 14th Amendment that ethniticity was allowed. This allows “white” hispanics to be counted both as “white race” and “hispanic ethnicity” which helps the hispanics keep minority status. It is this minority status when they are clearly becoming the majority that threatens the balance of power in the State of Texas. I know, I was caught up in the redistricting debacle of 2012.

    Dale, I identify myself with many of conservative fiscal principles of the Tea Party but have to pull back from my support for the Tea Party because of the destructive impact they are having on the GOP. The GOP is the only hope of changing the all out assault on the middle class and rural landowners that that the EPA and NRCS has under full assault. We must stop this administations power grab or our form of government will be lost for all future generations. You don’t want that on your conscience now do you.

    I once ran for Congress in this State. Given the current bent of the Party, I probably never will again. I know calling the Tea Party out will almost insure I never get elected. But I am a man of integrity who just speaks his mind when issues seem so clear to me. I want my children and grandchildren enjoying the freedoms many of us have taken for granted. Please give them a chance.

    • Yvonne Larsen says

      “The Republican Party has no room for such tolerance”. Does that statement also apply to Mr Adams and his convention behavior towards that teacher?

  6. says

    I find it interesting that, when given the opportunity, the Tea Party rejected free markets in favor of government control and regulation. Will they now admit that they are not about liberty at all?

  7. Valoree Swanson says

    Please read both final versions of the immigration plank. We supported the amended Permanent Committee report because it was actually much, much stronger and more conservative. It was NOT the Texas Solution. The Batura adopted version left out many important conservative points. Unlike many believed, BOTH versions contain a visa program, but the one in the Amended Committee Report was stronger. In either version, it could not be used by anyone in the country illegally. The Batura version left out the section of the Minority Report that said visa applications must start in the country of origin. The Batura version also left out the five year limit on visas contained in the Amended Committee Report and left visas with unlimited length. The Ameded Committee Report was stronger because it contained: • State control on deciding if border was secure, not Federal government,• Explicitly TEMPORARY visa program rather than implied PERMANENT one,• Requirement that all visa applicants speak English,• Criminal background check for all visa applicants,• Payment of penalties and back taxes prior to via issuance,• Ban on visa holders from obtaining government assistance payments or healthcare,• Recognition that we should not “mass deport” everyone,• It was not believed to be offensive to legal immigrants.

    In all the rush and confusion, people did not have a chance to carefully read and compare the two. If you will take the time now to thoroughly compare them, you will see that many of us as conservatives voted the opposite way because we saw that the Amended Committee Report was actually the stronger, more conservative version.

  8. says

    Dale, nicely written. Thanks for all you do.

    Marc, if you cannot figure out what the tea party stands for or why it exists, not to worry … we know exactly why the tea party exists … to help Republican elites find their way back to the grassroot republicans or to the exit door.

    Valoree, yes there was lots of confusion …. The rule that all amendments had to be submitted yesterday and cannot be amended was not right, but we worked with it in the best way possible

    • Ross says

      Tea Party stands for the belief that we don’t have to pay for the government we need, and that the poor deserve to be treated badly because, hey, they deserve it.

      Tea Party is code for a group that lacks the ability to think clearly

      Tea Party motto “I got mine, so screw you”

      Tea Party is why my kid’s elementary school went from 20 kids per class to 26 while lawyers making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year paid lower taxes.

      Tea Party, one reason I will start voting for Democrats in select races. How many defections like that can you stand?

    • says

      Ross, one question: how is it that you think (I use that term loosely) that the Tea Party is so powerless and inept and yet is responsible for so many evils?

      If you really believe what you are writing, then there is nothing that anybody here can say that will change your mind. Please, vote your conscious. The good news is that the vast majority of Republicans can actually think clearly. We certainly have our family scuffles, but come November we understand that Elections are almost always about the lesser of two evils.

      At any rate, feel free to “defect”, I suspect that the Republican party will survive nicely without you.

    • Ross says

      filmmaker, all I know is that I don’t really want to vote for Democrats, but the Republicans are going too far to the right. I am at the point where I can’t, in all good conscience, vote for many Republicans any longer. And I am not alone. Many of my friends and colleagues who have been reliable Republican voters for decades are fed up too.

      I have not heard one workable proposal on immigration from the Tea Party, other than a vast expansion of government powers along the borders. I see nothing about making sure that everyone pays their air share of the cost of government, but lots of actions that only ensure the poor pay more and the rich pay less. I see huge amounts of bigotry and disdain for those who are different. I’ve never strayed far from the middle, and am not going to move as far to the right as the Republicans have.

    • says

      Ross,

      I have a strong suspicion that you don’t really want to hear this, and, most likely, you’ve heard all of this before. Nevertheless, on the off chance that you are honestly looking for answers. . . .

      1. Neither I, nor anybody else I know want to expand government powers along the border. We simply want the government to do what it’s supposed to do, which is to prevent our country from being invaded by people who have no legal right to be here. It’s what the government is here for. In fact, I would have to ask you, if our government can’t enforce our borders then what the hell’s the point? We should just give up calling ourselves the United States and telling other countries we’re a sovereign nation. Neither I nor any “tea partier” that I know wants policemen driving around randomly picking up people who look different. On the other hand I think it’s fair to ask someone who’s been arrested if they are here legally.

      2. Everybody I know wants taxes to be apportioned fairly. Right now more than 50% of the nation pays no federal income tax at all. Please tell me how you consider that fair. But, to be honest what I’m most interested in is the government getting less – from everybody! The federal government is too big, too unwieldy, too inefficient, and (in many cases) too corrupt to function effectively. The fix is to put it on a starvation diet. Or, you can go with the Democrats and spend $10 million to find out why butterfly wings are different colors on the backside.

      3. Once again, neither I nor anybody I know rejects other human beings on the basis of their appearance, religious beliefs, gender, race, sexual orientation or whether they wear double knit clothes. However, there are many people who practice a lifestyle that I don’t approve of. They are certainly within their rights to do so, but please don’t expect me to applaud or express my approval. By the way, this happens on both sides. Earlier today I was called an evil pig because I stated that the ultimate culinary masterpiece is a perfectly grilled, very thick, bone-in rib eye steak. I’ve had prospective clients refuse to do business with me because they discovered that I attend a conservative church.

      So, Ross, there you go, you can move to the D side of the aisle, but what you’re gonna find there is at least as bad, and probably far worse than the Republicans you know. The middle is a great place to hang out for a while, but at some point you have to decide where to hang your philosophical hat.

  9. William S. Sutherland says

    I like how Marc Young compared illegal aliens to feral hogs. I’ll have to remember that one. And that was a good reply, Brian Crumby. Those back-stabbin’ RINOS is why I quit being a delegate at Republican conventions. And it sounds like Ross really wasn’t a real Republican after all. Eric Cantor is JUST the beginning!

    • Ross says

      Who appointed you in charge of what does and does not constitute a real Republican?

      I get the impression that no one here really cares that more than a few people who have consistently voted Republican for years are going to vote for non-Republicans. You need to rethink that position, or you will be watching from the sidelines as Democrats take over the state.

  10. Manuel Barrera says

    Dang numbers they are always confusing.

    50% of the persons in the United States don’t pay taxes.

    25% of the persons in the United States are under 18.

    14% of the persons are over 65.

    When one considers that young people normally are not in a position to pay federal taxes and that many of our seniors don’t either is it any wonder that about 50% of the people don’t pay federal taxes? Source

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3505

    By the way it 50% of households, not people.

    I tend to vote in Republican primaries and independent in November. I always vote. For instance Romney v Obama I voted but for neither of those candidates.

    Interestingly enough many people that do not support immigration reform are Democrats but will not vote for Republicans for other reasons.

    As to securing the border that will never happen, nearly 2,000 miles with Mexico and nearly 4,000 with Canada. We have a lot of ocean border that would also need to be covered. The only country that may have secure borders is in Korea, that border is 160 miles long and has 2.5 miles of militarized zone between the countries.

    Don’t kid yourself Texas is not that far away from becoming Blue if the GOP does not grow the party. The percentage of Republican support has been in the decline with 2012 being an exception. I expect that in 2016 especially if Hilary Clinton runs that Democrats may elect their first state wide candidate. Clinton is very well liked by Latinos.

    The GOP is losing the young voters also, it lost a lost most of the homosexual vote and their families. As to controlling the House and Senate, don’t be surprised when the Democrats take over if they don’t redistrict the same way, pack all the Republicans in as few districts as possible.

  11. William S. Sutherland says

    Ross, You just proved my point. Anyone who would vote for a Democrat just because he mad at some Republicans couldn’t be much of a Republican. I vote based on the Constitution. That means that sometimes I vote third party, but I’ve never seen but one Democrat who was constitutional and therefore worth voting for and that was a long time ago!

    PS. A true Republican is one who believes in our Constitutional Republic, NOT a Socialist Democracy.

    • Ross says

      There aren’t any socialist Democrats. Not once have I heard a Democrat espouse common ownership of the means of production, which is a core tenet of socialism. Do Democrats believe in the Welfare State? Yes, but that’s different than socialism. I also distinguish between state and national politics. I am much more likely to vote for a Democrat in a state or local race than in a national race. I’ve voted for John Whitmire for a while, because he’s a decent Senator, and there was no real qualified opposition to him from the Republicans. In a national race, I am much more likely to vote for a Libertarian.

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