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The Brief: April 1, 2013

Dueling events at the Capitol today will pit Texas' top Republicans against the state's two highest-profile Democrats.

Joaquin Castro and Ted Cruz.

The Big Conversation

Dueling events at the Capitol today will pit Texas' top Republicans against the state's two highest-profile Democrats.

The Republicans are up first. At a news conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz will unite to reaffirm their opposition to Medicaid expansion, a major component of federal health care reform. 

The Republicans will be joined by other state officials and lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, as well as representatives from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an influential conservative think tank that has urged the state to seek a block grant from the federal government instead of expanding Medicaid.

Perry, Cornyn and Cruz are expected to call on the Obama administration to grant the state more flexibility to deal with Medicaid as it chooses.

Two hours later, as the Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reported Friday, Democrats will offer a rebuttal. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and his brother, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, will hold their own news event at which they'll defend the provision and press the state to participate in the expansion.

"We will be making the point that expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do, the moral thing to do," Joaquin Castro told the San Antonio Express-News.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, as well as several other lawmakers and groups, including the Texas Hospital Association, will appear alongside the Castros.

The renewed attention on Medicaid expansion comes the same week the state House could address the issue as it takes up a new two-year budget, as the Express-News reports.

"I think that [Medicaid expansion] is worth having a conversation about among the body, because it is one of the more visible issues out there that the Legislature has yet to really address," said state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton.

Culled

•    Gunfire Claims 2nd Prosecutor in Texas County (The New York Times): "After the daylight assassination of his deputy two months ago, Mike McLelland, the district attorney in largely rural Kaufman County, responded with a flash of angry bravado, denigrating the perpetrators as “scum” and vowing to hunt them down. … On Saturday evening, the authorities found Mr. McLelland, 63, and his wife, Cynthia, 65, shot to death inside their home in Forney, Tex., in Kaufman County. The killings galvanized law enforcement officials and frightened and bewildered local residents, many of them still shaken by the shooting of the deputy, Mark E. Hasse, 57, on Jan. 31. That case remains unsolved."

•    A Clinton in 'Transition' Keeps Opponents and Donors Frozen (The New York Times): "Next month being Hillary Rodham Clinton will translate into a lucrative public speaking career with the Harry Walker Agency, which represents her husband, former Vice President Dick Cheney and Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, among many others. Mrs. Clinton’s first paid appearance will be on April 24 before the National Multi Housing Council in Dallas."

•    Davis says governor's race not in cards for '14 (KXAN): "State Sen. Wendy Davis, who has emerged as one of the most visible Democrats in the Capitol this session, says she has no plans to run for governor in 2014, but will seek another term representing Fort Worth next year. … Davis also said it's 'too soon to tell' whether Democrats can mount a serious statewide challenge, even as several Republicans are jockeying for position in several races — from governor to lieutenant governor to land commissioner."

•    US trade chief to join private sector (Financial Times): "Ron Kirk, who was Barack Obama’s main international trade negotiator for four years, will announce on Monday that he is joining Gibson Dunn, a prominent US law firm, to advise its global clients, making a quick move to the private sector after stepping down from the US cabinet just a few weeks ago."

Quote of the Day: "I’m ahead of everybody else because, basically, I’m a soldier." — Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland, who was found shot to death on Saturday, in an interview with The Associated Press less than two weeks ago

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