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The Brief: Aug. 21, 2013

Turning the focus away from his birthplace, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday took his push to dismantle "Obamacare" on the road.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on March 16, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Turning the focus away from his birthplace, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday took his push to dismantle "Obamacare" on the road.

In Dallas at the Hilton Anatole, Cruz whipped up an enthusiastic crowd of about 1,000 at the Texas stop of Heritage Action's nine-city "Defund Obamacare" tour.

"You’re here because now is the single best time we have to defund Obamacare," Cruz told the crowd, according to The New York Times. "This is a fight we can win."

Before the rally, Cruz emphasized that he does "not want to shut down the government — I want to defund Obamacare."

But Cruz and the Heritage Foundation's push for a government spending bill that nixes funding for the Affordable Care Act has irked many Republican leaders, worried that a presidential veto of the measure would trigger a government shutdown for which the GOP would take the blame. In response, Cruz has attempted to mobilize grassroots support behind his effort, which has won the backing of some conservative Republicans.

"Since when do Americans not fight for what they know is right because they are afraid to lose?" former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, the president of the Heritage Foundation, told The Dallas Morning News. "What we’re trying to do is have an informed electorate, and the politics will follow."

The rally came the same day a new chapter of the state's dealings with the federal government over the Affordable Care Act appeared to have unfolded. On Tuesday afternoon, Politico reported that Perry aides had begun negotiating with the federal government to draw $100 million from the health law to help the elderly and disabled.

But as the Tribune's Becca Aaronson reported late Tuesday, the governor's office is denying that any such negotiations have taken place. Rather, the state's Health and Human Services Commission has sought the federal funding as part of "a pretty straightforward process available to all states that provides an increase in the federal match rate for certain services," said HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.

Added Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Perry: "The bottom line is it has nothing to do with Obamacare."


•    Galveston County may run afoul of Voting Rights Act (Houston Chronicle): "Galveston County commissioners have slashed the number of justice of the peace and constable districts a year after the U.S. Justice Department blocked a similar plan as discriminatory. The action makes Galveston County the first local government in the Houston region, and possibly in Texas, to make a change that would have been unlawful before a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act."

•    Next stop for Texas governor: Missouri (The Dallas Morning News): "Gov. Rick Perry is heading to his sixth state this year to scout for businesses and jobs in the high-stakes economic development battle. Next week, he plans to travel to Missouri to trumpet Texas’ low taxes, fewer regulations and high job creation rate. On Tuesday, a 30-second television advertisement began airing in several Missouri markets, including St. Louis. The ads feature women and small and immigrant business owners talking about what Texas offers, such as no income tax."

•    State puts gravel road plan on hold (San Antonio Express-News): "A plan to convert some drilling-affected roads in rural areas, particularly the Eagle Ford Shale zone, to gravel is slowing down after lawmakers raised serious concerns. Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, said Tuesday that Texas Department of Transportation officials had signaled a 60-day delay in some of the planned conversions of 83 miles of paved roads to gravel."

•    AG candidate to Mayor Castro: Drop LGBT ordinance (Express-News): "The firestorm surrounding San Antonio's proposed non-discrimination ordinance is spreading from local government into state politics. State Rep. Dan Branch, a Dallas Republican campaigning for attorney general, sent a letter to Mayor Julián Castro on Monday asking that he withdraw the proposed city council ordinance that would ban discrimination of employees based on sexual orientation."

Quote to Note: "Political correctness will not win this day; standing firm as an individual in service to the whole community does. I stand strong in my First Amendment right to freedom of speech and our right to privacy." — San Antonio City Councilwoman Elisa Chan on Tuesday in her first public appearance since the disclosure of her recent anti-gay comments


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