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The Brief: Sept. 20, 2013

A quixotic effort to dismantle Obamacare has turned into into a crucial test for newly embattled Ted Cruz.

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

A quixotic effort to dismantle Obamacare has turned into into a crucial test for newly embattled Ted Cruz.

Cruz's troubles started earlier this week, when House Speaker John Boehner, pressed by the most conservative wing of his party, announced that he would introduce a government spending measure that would — as Cruz has advocated — eliminate funding for the president's health care law.

Though Cruz, Texas' bellicose junior U.S. senator, praised the decision, he sparked a firestorm of criticism from House Republicans after saying on Wednesday that the measure — which may lead to a government shutdown — could not pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Cruz, conservatives in the House argued, was effectively backing down from a fight he had led.

On Thursday, frustration among House Republicans with their Senate counterparts — namely Cruz — continued to mount.

"You mean about how they’re saying we’re not going to fight … but forget about what we said earlier? Yeah, there’s a bit of frustration," U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wis., told Politico.

Cruz, meanwhile, attempted to quell some of the criticism, saying at a news conference on Thursday that he may employ "any procedural means necessary" — including a filibuster — to block an alternative government-funding measure crafted by Senate Democrats. 

But even some Senate Republicans, including Cruz's Texas colleague, Sen. John Cornyn, appeared reluctant to back Cruz's next move.

"I think the biggest concern I’ve had all along is that to answer the question, how does this end?" Cornyn told Politico. "And I think that people are now beginning to realize that by being divided over this approach, that we’ve actually made the job harder for the House Republicans. That’s something I would hope we would try to avoid."


•    Court overturns DeLay’s criminal convictions (Austin American-Statesman): "Thursday’s victory for DeLay doesn’t end the long-running case — dating to the 2002 elections — because Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said she would ask the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the decision. 'We are absolutely going to appeal it,' said Lehmberg, a Democrat. 'We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,' Lehmberg said in a written statement."

•    Report: UT regents courted Alabama’s Saban (Austin American-Statesman): "University of Texas president Bill Powers told the American-Statesman on Thursday that he did not authorize one current and one former regent to contact Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s agent in January about the possibility of Saban replacing Mack Brown as Longhorns coach. Powers also said he only recently became aware of the clandestine conversation when it was reported on a fan website, and declined to give a reaction to Thursday’s Associated Press report about the January telephone conversation."

•    A Maverick Tries to Stay in the Picture (The Texas Tribune): "In 2009, Debra Medina began an underdog bid for governor of Texas, delivering one fiery speech after another to any Republican club or Tea Party group that would let her make the case for a platform focusing on state sovereignty, gun rights and eliminating the property tax. For nearly a year, until her appearance in a televised debate drew national attention and energized her fund-raising, the campaign sustained itself on a shoestring budget. Four years after emerging as a Tea Party darling in Texas, Ms. Medina is eyeing the open race to succeed Comptroller Susan Combs. But as she weighs another run, she knows that donations from grass-roots supporters can take a candidate only so far in Texas."

•    Obama Administration Presses Ahead With Limits on Emissions From Power Plants (The New York Times): "A year after a plan by President Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants set off angry opposition, the administration will announce on Friday that it is not backing down from a confrontation with the coal industry and will press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation’s power companies."

•    President Obama to visit Dallas next month for two fund-raisers (The Dallas Morning News): "President Barack Obama has a trip to Dallas on his fall schedule. He will be in town Oct. 21 for two fund-raisers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to people close to the events."

Quote to Note: "I just thank the Lord for carrying me through all of this. It really drove my detractors crazy because I had the joy of Jesus in me, and they didn’t understand it." — Tom DeLay to reporters after his money laundering conviction was overturned on Thursday


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