The Brief: Texas Political News for Sept. 25, 2013

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

The Big Conversation

For the second time this year, a talkathon has elevated a Texas politician to new heights of national renown. 

Almost three months to the day after state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filibustered an abortion bill for more than 11 hours, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz embarked on a marathon talk of his own in his ill-fated bid to defund Obamacare.

Cruz, Texas' firebrand junior senator, took to the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon around 2 p.m., vowing to speak against the president's health care law until he was "no longer able to stand."

"A great many Texans, a great many Americans feel they do not have a voice, and so I hope to play some very small role in providing the voice," Cruz said as he began.

By 4 a.m. Wednesday, he was, in fact, still standing, continuing to trash the law with the occasional help of a few of his fellow senators, to whom Cruz yielded for questions throughout the day. To fill time, Cruz also read tweets from supporters and at one point even started reading Green Eggs and Ham to his children, who he said were watching from home. (According to The Dallas Morning News, "a Senate stenographer stood stone-faced nearby, recording each syllable for the Congressional Record.)

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted early in the day, however, Cruz wasn't technically waging a filibuster. The Senate today will hold a procedural vote — which Cruz cannot stop — on a House-approved bill to avert a government shutdown, and it is likely to eventually pass. Cruz supports the contents of the bill, which in its current state defunds Obamacare, but wants to block the legislation in an attempt to keep Reid from stripping the defunding provision.

But top Republicans have largely abandoned Cruz, worried that the fight risks a government shutdown, for which Republicans would receive the blame.

"Getting the majority in the Senate in 2014 is possible, and we don’t want to go down roads that make it harder," U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told The New York Times. "Repealing Obamacare is a goal all Republicans share, but the tactics of achieving that goal can have a backlash."

While Cruz may not be able to stop the bill, he at least hopes to drag the debate into the weekend, according to The Washington Post. And that could further complicate Republicans' efforts to turn the debate around on Democrats before the shutdown deadline passes.

Culled

•    Feds Release Early Premium Rates for Insurance Marketplace (The Texas Tribune): "As the nation watched U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday argue for hours to defund Obamacare — even at the cost of shutting down the federal government — the Obama administration released preliminary data showing that premium rates in the health insurance marketplace created by the law will be comparatively low for Texans."

•    Craig James threatens legal action over Fox Sports firing (Houston Chronicle): "Attorneys representing former NFL running back and Republican senatorial candidate Craig James said on Tuesday they are prepared to proceed with legal action against Fox Sports unless it takes steps to return James to the air as a college football analyst on Fox Sports Southwest."

•    Country’s largest wind farm planned in Texas Panhandle (The Dallas Morning News): "The claim that everything is bigger in Texas could soon be reclaimed by the state’s wind industry. Dallas-based Tri Global Energy announced Tuesday that it plans to build a 1,100-megawatt wind farm near Lubbock with up to 650 wind turbines. That would make it the largest wind farm in the country and among the largest in the world."

Quote to Note: "Most Americans could not give a flying flip about politicians in Washington. Who cares? Most of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts. Who cares?" — Ted Cruz in his speech on the Senate floor. (And find nine other colorful Cruz quotes here.)

Must-Read

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