The Brief: Texas Political News for Sept. 19, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on March 16, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on March 16, 2013.

The Big Conversation

A nascent battle pitting U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz against House Republicans has burst into full view.

The drama started Wednesday, when House Speaker John Boehner bowed to his party's vocal right wing, unveiling a bill to keep the government running that would strip funding for President Barack Obama's health care law.

Boehner had hoped to avert a fight tying the funding bill, or continuing resolution, to defunding Obamacare, but the speaker and Republican leadership failed to find enough votes — raising, at least temporarily, the prospects of a government shutdown.

Cruz, the driving force behind the effort to defund Obamacare, praised Boehner for his decision but admitted that the measure faced long odds in the Democrat-controlled Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so," Cruz said in a statement on Wednesday. "At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people."

As NBC News reports, however, Cruz's comments incensed several Washington Republicans, who slammed the senator and his GOP allies, like Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, for backing down from a fight that they've led.

"House agrees to send #CR to Senate that defunds Obamacare. @SenTedCruz & @SenMikeLee refuse to fight. Wave white flag and surrender," U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, a conservative Wisconsin Republican, tweeted on Wednesday.

"Cruz, Lee and Rubio are like the kids in high school who would yell fight, fight, fight, but have never thrown a punch in their entire life," an unnamed Republican aide told NBC.

And as a "House GOP leadership aide" told CNN's Dana Bash, according to a tweet on Wednesday: "Wendy Davis has more balls than Ted Cruz."

Once the measure passes the House, it will move to the Senate, which is expected to vote to remove the Obamacare provision. The measure would then move back to the House, where Boehner would likely have to cobble together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to avert a government shutdown.

Culled

•    Perry and O'Malley Face Off in Jobs Debate (The Texas Tribune): "Gov. Rick Perry, who has targeted Maryland as part of his ongoing campaign to lure out-of-state companies to the Lone Star State, went head to head with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on job creation on Wednesday. Perry and the Maryland governor faced off on CNN's Crossfire, debating differences beween Republican and Democratic strategies in the states to create jobs. Perry is currently on a job-poaching trip to Maryland, where he has spent the day meeting with business leaders, including gun manufacturer Beretta USA, as part of an effort to court businesses into Texas."

•    Texas' Poverty Rate Declines for First Time Since Recession (TT): "The percentage of Texans living in poverty dropped from 18.5 percent in 2011 to 17.9 percent in 2012, marking the first decline in the state since the recession began in 2008. Still, Texas’ poverty rate remained above the national rate, and above the state's pre-recession rate."

•    Patrick Defends Charter School Bill Before SBOE (TT): "Key charter school legislation would not have passed during the last legislative session without a provision removing much of the State Board of Education's authority in approving applications, Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said Wednesday. Defending the change at a state board meeting, Patrick told members it was the result of a compromise needed to get the bill through both chambers. 'I will just be very candid with you: There are members of the Legislature in both parties that didn't want you involved at all,' said Patrick, who is running for lieutenant governor. 'There is a sense that your plate is very full.'"

•    Looming House vote could cut food aid for 3.8 million people (San Antonio Express-News): "Months after Congress floated competing bills that would cut billions from the nation's food stamp program, the House will likely vote Thursday on a plan that some fear will drop millions of qualified recipients from the program. Republicans have put forth a stand-alone food stamp bill that would cut $39 billion from the program over 10 years and reduce or eliminate benefits for 3.8 million recipients, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office."

Quote to Note: "I have expressed some hesitancy to look at a statewide campaign for me in 2014, but politics is when timing and opportunity collide. And I also recognize that you cannot want change if you're not willing to be the agent of that change." — State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, to the Express-News

Must-Read

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