The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 2, 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

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's latest tack has failed to bring Congress any closer to ending the government shutdown.

On Tuesday, Cruz, a central figure in the government funding fight, pressed the House to adopt measures that would fund specific agencies and services, including the National Park Service and veterans' programs. The government shut down Tuesday at midnight after Congress failed to break a stalemate over a Republican-led effort to defund Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government running.

As a new round of national polling showed Americans largely blaming Republicans for the shutdown, Cruz hoped to turn the debate on Democrats by showing that the GOP was attempting to reopen parts of the government, as the Houston Chronicle notes.

"What's frustrating is so often Republicans don't plan and strategize and execute a plan to win," Cruz said. "That's what we should be doing, and that is hopefully what I'm trying to do."

But the measures, which required a two-thirds vote under a procedural rule, failed. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders lashed out against Cruz.

"It turns out that Sen. Cruz is going to pick and choose those departments that he wants to open,'' said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., according to the Chronicle. "That's right. The junior senator from Texas."

Top Republicans, according to The New York Times, now say the shutdown could last for at least two more weeks.

The first day of the government shutdown, meanwhile, coincided with the national debut of health care exchanges, one of the main provisions of Obamacare. As the Tribune's Becca Aaronson reports, the insurance marketplace in Texas, as in many other states, got off to a rocky start, experiencing technical glitches as a deluge of patients tried to access the federal site, healthcare.gov. (In Brownsville, for example, 50 people who showed up at a community health center to apply for coverage online couldn't complete the process because they didn't have email addresses.)

Federal officials said they would try to resolve the problems as quickly as possible.

"We are thrilled that over 1 million people visited HealthCare.gov in the last day," Erin Shields, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in an email. "There were five times more users on the Marketplace website this morning than have ever been on the Medicare.gov at one time."

Culled

•    Lieutenant governor’s race may come down to personality (Houston Chronicle) "The four Republican candidates for Texas lieutenant governor showed up in Houston Tuesday night for a forum that ended up displaying more differences in personality than disagreements over major policy issues. The unusual format of the event, sponsored by the United Republicans of Harris County and the Texas Federation of Republican Women, featured a dozen questions of various degrees of seriousness, but only two candidates were given the opportunity to answer each one. The result was an amiable session at the Sosa Community Center in west Houston that featured no heated rhetoric — save for that directed at illegal immigrants and President Barack Obama — no insults or accusations, and an emphatic consensus that Texas is a special place from which the other 49 states should learn."

•    Rick Perry calls Obamacare 'a criminal act' as he stumps for Lonegan in Bergen County (Newark Star-Ledger): "Texas Gov. Rick Perry finished his trip across New Jersey today with a stop at a Bergen County diner, calling Obamacare 'a criminal act' and joining Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan in praising Republicans’ effort in Washington to stop it."

•    Abbott Announces Settlement Over American Airlines Merger (The Texas Tribune): "The state of Texas has reached a settlement agreement with American Airlines and US Airways over the two airlines' proposed merger, Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Tuesday. Under the deal, American Airlines agreed to ensure that the merged airline would maintain daily service to 22 Texas airports for at least three years following the merger."

Quote to Note: "From time to time we’ll stick the wrong word in the wrong place, and you pounce upon it." — Gov. Rick Perry to reporters on Tuesday, referring to his wife's recent remark that abortion "could be a woman's right"

Must-Read

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