The Brief: Texas Political News for Oct. 17, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking to the Austin Chamber of Commerce at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin on April 5, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking to the Austin Chamber of Commerce at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin on April 5, 2013.

The Big Conversation

His push to defund Obamacare may have led to a stinging political defeat for Republicans, but will Ted Cruz try again?

Not if U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, one of Cruz's fiercest Republican critics during the recent fiscal drama, has anything to say about it.

"I think it's important for people in the Republican Party around the country not to just come in at the end and say, 'Congress was dysfunctional,' or 'Congress screwed up.' That's too easy to do," King, who has floated his own name for president in 2016, told Capital New York. "Say who it was. Because it wasn't Congress. It was one person who was able to steamroll Congress, and unless we target him for what he is, he's going to do it again. So I'm hoping other Republicans will join me and start going after this guy, and say we're not going to let it happen again."

King's comments came the same day Republicans conceded defeat in their fight to extract concessions from President Barack Obama, including the defunding of his health care law, in exchange for keeping the government open and raising the debt ceiling. As the government shutdown stretched into its third week, plunging approval ratings pushed congressional Republicans to relent on Wednesday. The Senate voted 81 to 18 in favor of a deal that was struck by leaders from both parties but was mostly favorable to Democrats; the House — with the support of all 198 Democrats and only 87 Republicans — followed suit.

Cruz and his fellow Texas senator, John Cornyn, voted against the measure, as did all 24 Texas Republicans in the House.

For his part, Cruz, who led the fight to defund Obamacare, declined to block a preliminary vote on the measure in the Senate. But he refused to admit defeat in his battle against Obamacare and the White House.

"If the American people continue to rise up, I believe the House will continue to listen to the American people," Cruz told reporters on Wednesday. "I hope that in time, the Senate begins to listen to the American people."

After all, the bill approved by Congress keeps the government funded through Jan. 15, meaning another fight could erupt in three months.

"The American people rose up and spoke with an overwhelming voice, and at least at this stage Washington isn’t listening to them," Cruz said. "But this battle will continue."

Culled

•    Hutchison blasts GOP 'outliers' who 'hijacked' deficit debate (The Dallas Morning News): "Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said Wednesday that Ted Cruz’s push to shut down the government over Obamacare was doomed from the start, a 'kamikaze mission' that hurt efforts to resolve the country’s debt crisis. 'Lack of unanimity, even among the most conservative members of Congress, was a fatal flaw in this,' Hutchison said, her most critical comments yet about her successor, Cruz — a fellow Republican, tea party darling and vocal leader against the new health care law. 'Most Republicans wanted to negotiate on the issue of spending and the debt and the deficit,' she said in a Dallas interview. 'A few people threw in an issue [Obamacare] that you could not win. It was absolutely clear you could not win it.'"

•    Talk of repealing 17th Amendment invades lieutenant governor race (San Antonio Express-News): "Should voters be able choose their U.S. senators? Ask Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst or Sen. Dan Patrick and the answer is a resounding 'No.' The two Republicans — both vying for the lieutenant governor seat — recently voiced support to strip voters of the ability to elect U.S. senators and hand over that power back to state lawmakers. It would require repealing the 17th Amendment, which for the last 100 years has provided for the direct election of senators by voters."

•    Creighton Exits Ag Race to Run for Senate; Sid Miller Jumps In (The Texas Tribune): "The race for agriculture commissioner got a shake-up on Wednesday night, as state Rep. Brandon Creighton announced he would instead run for state Senate and former state Rep. Sid Miller said he would enter the ag commissioner's race."

•    Willeford: Perry "Going After" UT-Austin, Powers (TT): "In an email blast to friends defending the University of Texas at Austin, Pamela Willeford, a former U.S. ambassador and a former chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, had sharp words for Gov. Rick Perry and his controversial higher ed adviser, Jeff Sandefer."

•    Report: 1 Million Texans Lack Insurance Options (TT): "Because Texas chose not to expand Medicaid, 1 million poor, uninsured adults won't have access to insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Wednesday."

Quote to Note: "Sometimes those comments like that are made out of malice, but if someone has no intelligence, I don’t view it as being a malicious statement." — U.S. Sen. John McCain to NBC News' Brian Williams on U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert's suggestion that McCain has supported al-Qaida

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