The Brief: Texas Political News for Sept. 26, 2013

Ted Cruz supporters at his election night watch party in Houston on July 31, 2012.
Ted Cruz supporters at his election night watch party in Houston on July 31, 2012.

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz's talkathon may have irked GOP leaders in Washington, but Republicans back home are calling it a game changer.

On Wednesday, after the U.S. Senate, as expected, voted to take up the government spending bill that Cruz spoke against for 21 hours, Republicans in Washington kept up their criticism of Texas' junior senator.

Many Senate Republicans, as The New York Times reports, have grown especially tired of Cruz's assertion that Republicans will be able to defund Obamacare if they push hard enough.

"This is not a situation where you dig your heels in and Obamacare gets defunded," U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a conservative Republican from Wisconsin, told the Times. "I think people are willing to hope that’s true. I wish it were true. Trust me, I hope Senator Cruz’s oratory convinces five Democratic senators to vote with us. I just don’t think that’s going to happen."

 

Top Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas have come out against Cruz's effort, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Wednesday even called Cruz out for comparing his detractors to "appeasers" during World War II.

But in Texas, Cruz's defunding effort and headline-making speech appear to have emboldened grassroots conservatives and offered a boost to other Tea Party candidates.

"You can feel the Cruz effect all over the state," Konni Burton, a conservative Republican running to succeed Democrat Wendy Davis in the state Senate, told The Associated Press, adding: "At town halls, at any event, his name gets mentioned and people just go crazy. There are legislators there, too, and they're running and they hear it. They can't ignore what's going on."

Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said the fight "solidifies Cruz as the leader of the Republican Party in Texas."

As for where Cruz goes from here, while the government funding bill that he opposes is expected to eventually pass, the senator and his supporters hope pressure from activists and grassroots conservatives compels more Republicans to oppose the legislation before a key vote on Friday, according to National Review.

Culled

•    House Republicans explore strategy to avoid federal government shutdown (The Washington Post): With federal agencies set to close their doors in five days, House Republicans began exploring a potential detour on the path to a shutdown: shifting the fight over President Obama’s health-care law to a separate bill that would raise the nation's debt limit. If it works, the strategy could clear the way for the House to approve a simple measure to keep the government open into the new fiscal year, which will begin Tuesday, without hotly contested provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act.

•    Abbott: Legal Action Could Follow Arms Treaty Approval (The Texas Tribune): "Texas could be on verge of filing its 30th lawsuit against the Obama administration. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for Texas governor, reiterated on Tuesday that the state would 'lead the charge' in bringing legal action against the federal government if the U.S. ratified the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty."

•    UT System: Powers Should Have Been Told About Saban Call (TT): "Top lawyers at the University of Texas System acknowledged on Wednesday that UT-Austin President Bill Powers should have been notified about a regent's discussion with an agent for University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban."

Quote to Note: "Wendy Davis filibustered for women's health. Sen. Cruz filibustered against people having health care." — State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, to reporters on Wednesday

Must-Read

 

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