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The Brief: Aug. 1, 2013

Facing opposition from his own party, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is digging in on his latest effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference on March 16, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Facing opposition from his own party, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is digging in on his latest effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

On Wednesday, Cruz, R-Texas, stepped up his efforts to convince Republicans to shut down the federal government unless federal health care reform is defunded. In a conference call with reporters, he urged grass-roots activists to join the cause.

"If ordinary Washington rules apply, we can’t win this fight," he said. "We don’t have the votes, and we are unlikely to get the votes in closed-door meetings in Washington. The only way that we win this fight is if the American people rise up."

Earlier this week, Cruz said his Republican colleagues were "scared" to stand behind him. As Politico reported Wednesday, his chief political strategist also compared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to President Barack Obama, and his chief of staff accused some Republicans of joining the "surrender caucus." (Cruz later distanced himself from the latter remark, saying, "I have not said an ill word about any of my colleagues, and they have said some pretty nasty words about me.")

The defunding plan has won praise from Senate Republicans like Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah. But other high-profile conservatives like McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have wittheld their support, likely out of concern that blame for a government shutdown would fall squarely on the GOP

Richard Burr of North Carolina, one of several Senate Republicans to come out against Cruz's effort, last week called the plan the "dumbest idea" he'd ever heard. Even John Cornyn, Cruz's fellow Texas senator, recently withdrew his name from a letter supporting the defunding.

Cruz, however, appears undeterred. As The Dallas Morning News notes, he's planning a "Defund Obamacare Tour" later this month with former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., that will include a stop in Dallas.


•    House Speaker Joe Straus, who pushed for money for water infrastructure this session, and state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, who carried the legislation, filed papers Wednesday creating Water Texas, a new PAC that will raise money and campaign for passage of the water money on November's constitutional amendment ballot. A source familiar with their plans said Ritter will be treasurer and that Straus will take a leading role in raising money and attention for the water measure.

   Judge Dismisses Suit to End Deportation Deferrals (The New York Times): "A federal district judge in Dallas, in a surprise turnaround from an earlier opinion, on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by immigration enforcement agents seeking to halt an Obama administration program that gives reprieves from deportation to young undocumented immigrants. In a short, technical ruling, Judge Reed O’Connor concluded that his court did not have jurisdiction to decide the suit, which was brought against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, because it was an administrative dispute between federal employees and the government."

•    State insisting it be given info on Twitter users (San Antonio Express-News): "State police have demanded Twitter records from two users that officials allege made 'terroristic threats' against lawmakers who pushed for abortion restrictions. One targeted user, Denise Romano, an Austin woman with a private Twitter account, explains on her page that posts are 'satirical.' The second user's account is anonymous and was unused for more than a year before a string of tweets specified in the Texas Department of Public Safety probe. In what appears to be an unprecedented move in Texas, law enforcement officials subpoenaed the Twitter users' information in a criminal investigation."

Quote to Note: "I believe it's terrorism." — MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Ted Cruz's effort to defund Obamacare


And in this week's TribCast: the third special session, excrement and impeachment.

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