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The Brief: Nov. 28, 2012

So much for Texas Republicans losing their clout in Congress next year.

Congressman Michael McCaul at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 23, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

So much for Texas Republicans losing their clout in Congress next year.

House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday announced, as expected, that U.S. Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Dallas and Lamar Smith of San Antonio had been selected to chair the House Financial Services and Science, Space and Technology committees, respectively. The full House Republican caucus will vote on the chairmanships today.

But hand-wringing — aired publicly before the election — over other Texans like Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas losing out on plum GOP appointments appears to have been unwarranted.

For one, Boehner on Tuesday confirmed that Sessions, whose hopes of holding on to a leadership position looked dim in September, would lead the influential House Rules Committee. Boehner had announced his selection of Sessions earlier this month.

And in a surprise, Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin was selected to chair the House Homeland Security Committee, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports. McCaul, who is outspoken on immigration and border security, edged out Reps. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Candice Miller of Michigan, who was considered the front-runner for the spot.

The position will give McCaul control over the committee in charge of overseeing the Department of Homeland Security at a time when immigration appears likely to come up for debate in Congress. McCaul recently made news when he said comprehensive immigration reform may be possible next session.

"Honestly, that’s going to be a very contentious issue to deal with," McCaul said earlier this month when asked about the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. "That’s most likely going to come up in the next Congress, and we’re going to have to figure out how best to deal with that."

Culled:

  • Texas ranks fourth in the nation in high school graduation rates, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education. The data also showed Texas tied for first place with Montana for graduation rates among black students and in second place, behind Maine, in rates for Hispanic students. The release of the data came the same day U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Dallas to meet with local school leaders.
  • In a Dallas Morning News op-ed, U.S. Sen John Cornyn outlines his plans for federal tax reform, writing that "bipartisan compromise is the only way to avoid further gridlock." But Cornyn, who says he wants the current rates extended until a broader deal is reached, stands firm on opposing any immediate compromise that would include concessions to Democrats on raising taxes on the rich. "Simply put: We cannot tax our way back to budget surpluses and economic prosperity," he writes, adding, "It’s easy for the president to talk about the need for a 'balanced approach.' But a truly balanced approach would have to include major spending cuts and entitlement reforms. There’s nothing balanced about continuing to spend money we don’t have and piling up trillions of dollars in new debt."
  • U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Tuesday introduced the ACHIEVE Act, a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act, a stalled bill that would offer a pathway to citizenship to some young undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Hutchison's bill, which she co-authored with U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., does not include a pathway to citizenship but would establish a three-step visa system for some immigrants. The legislation will lose its main backers next year when Hutchison and Kyl retire, but the Texas senator called the bill a "step forward in addressing a time-sensitive issue."

"There are those that say we’ve got extra money. There is no such thing as extra money." — Gov. Rick Perry in Waco on Tuesday

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