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The Brief: March 7, 2013

Texas' two U.S. senators on Wednesday helped stage one of the longest old-fashioned filibusters in years.

U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (l) and John Cornyn

The Big Conversation

Texas' U.S. senators on Wednesday helped stage one of the longest old-fashioned filibusters in years.

Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz yesterday joined Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in an epic filibuster over the Obama administration's drone program, helping stall the confirmation of John Brennan, the president's nominee to lead the CIA. 

Paul began speaking shortly before noon and did not leave the floor for nearly 13 hours. However, questioning from his Republican colleagues — many of whom launched into small speeches of their own — offered him some relief. 

"I would note that your standing here today, like a modern Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, must surely be making Jimmy Stewart smile," said Cruz, who returned to the floor throughout the day to read from Shakespeare's Henry V, quote Patton and compare Paul to the heroes of the Battle of the Alamo, which on Wednesday celebrated its 177th anniversary.

Cruz also returned later with tweets in tow, saying: "I feel quite confident that the senator from Kentucky is not aware of the Twitterverse that has been exploding. So what I wanted to do for the senator from Kentucky is give some small sampling of the reaction on Twitter so that he might understand how the American people are responding to his courageous leadership."

Several other senators — including Republicans Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Mark Kirk of Illinois and John Barrasso of Wyoming, as well as Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon — joined Cruz and Cornyn throughout the day.

Paul finally yielded the floor shortly before 1 a.m., saying, "I would try to go another 12 hours and try to break Strom Thurmond’s record, but there are some limits to filibustering, and I am going to have to go take care of one of those here."

Culled

•    Straus touts Medicaid action (San Antonio Express-News): "Seeking to light a fire under fellow Republicans on providing health care to uninsured people, House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday it's time to 'get our heads out of the sand' and find an alternative to Medicaid expansion that would bring billions of federal dollars to Texas. In an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Straus said he and other Republicans have made it clear they oppose expansion of Medicaid as the program now stands. 'But I think it's time that we said more than that. It's time that we put forth a good-faith effort to find a Texas solution,' he said."

•    Texas board lists top water projects for GOP leaders (The Associated Press): "Texas water planners facing mounting scrutiny from lawmakers privately drafted an $8 billion list of priority projects for Republican leaders as the state considers ramping up spending to fight a dwindling water supply, according to records obtained by The Associated Press."

•    Republican Senator Proposes Tax Hike for Transportation (The Texas Tribune): "Bucking his party and the state’s leadership, state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, filed a bill Wednesday proposing a constitutional amendment to temporarily raise the state sales tax to pay off billions of dollars in bond debt accrued by the Texas Department of Transportation."

•    State workers in line for pay raise (Austin American-Statesman): "State workers would get a 3 percent across-the-board pay raise in the upcoming budget, ending a four-year drought for many of them, under a Texas Senate proposal tentatively approved Wednesday."

Quote of the Day: "I think the technical term for what the Twitterverse is doing right now is 'blowing up.'" — Ted Cruz during Rand Paul's filibuster

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