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The Brief: Nov. 14, 2012

Despite big losses for Republicans last week, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn today will likely take on his most powerful role in the party yet.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The Big Conversation:

Despite big losses for Republicans last week, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn today will likely take on his most powerful role in the party yet.

Republicans in the Senate are expected to elevate Cornyn to the position of minority whip, the GOP's No. 2 spot in the upper chamber, during the party's congressional leadership elections this morning.

Cornyn — who is running unopposed for the position after Sen. John Thune of South Dakota abandoned a possible bid — will take on the new role a week after the party lost two Senate seats. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Cornyn chaired, attempted to recapture the upper chamber for the GOP but instead watched on Election Day as several races in states once thought competitive — like Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota — broke for Democrats.

Still, Cornyn doesn't appear to have lost support among his colleagues.

"John Cornyn has poured his heart and soul into the NRSC job," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told Roll Call, adding, "I don’t know how Cornyn could have put out more effort to be successful."

U.S. Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas also said Monday that he would support Cornyn. During his campaign, Cruz wouldn't commit to backing Cornyn.

As minority whip, Cornyn will help determine the party's legislative agenda and make sure that all members are present to vote on key bills. 


  • Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Tuesday voiced support for a bill that would require welfare applicants in Texas to undergo drug testing. The bill, filed by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would bar applicants who test positive for drugs from the application process for a full year unless they attend a substance abuse program. "This will help prevent tax dollars from going into the pockets of drug abusers," Perry said at a news conference. 
  • San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro will pen a memoir set to be published in 2014, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The book, which will be written in English and Spanish, is sure to fuel further speculation about the mayor's political future, which drew national attention after he spoke at the Democratic National Convention in September. "I was approached after the New York Times Magazine article in 2010 and basically decided that I would put that off. It didn't feel like the time was right back then," he said. "Then I was approached after the speech and decided to take on the challenge."
  • U.S. Rep. Ron Paul said on Tuesday that he thinks the chances of Congress reaching a grand bargain on the fiscal cliff are "probably zero," Politico reports. "They can postpone big decisions in January and yet that still does not remove the uncertainty," Paul said. "Uncertainty is a major cause of the inability for the market to get moving again, and they have to revamp it in a much more detailed fashion than they are even talking about right now."

"People are free to do whatever people want to do." — Rick Perry on Tuesday when asked about the Texas secession petition that has drawn thousands of signatures


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