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The Brief: Oct. 9, 2013

With the politics of the government shutdown still engulfing Washington, immigration has managed to edge its way back into the spotlight — if only briefly.

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With the politics of the government shutdown still engulfing Washington, immigration has managed to edge its way back into the spotlight — if only briefly.

Thousands of activists descended on the Capitol in D.C. on Tuesday to encourage Congress to approve immigration reform, whose prospects for passage this year dimmed after a Senate-approved bill stalled in the House and attention turned to other issues like Syria and the shutdown. 

At the rally, eight Democratic House members — including U.S. Rep. Al Green of Houston — were arrested after they stood silently in a line blocking traffic on a street next to the Capitol, according to The New York Times. About 200 other protesters were also detained.

Though the political stalemate over government funding and the budget threatens to delay action on immigration this year, Democrats last week unveiled a new bill that resembles the Senate legislation but does not include a "border surge" provision. Though the bill stands little chance of even reaching the floor, Democrats hope to use it to raise the political pressure on Republicans.

"Let’s get a vote on the floor," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who attended the rally, told the protesters.

Added U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who also attended the rally: "I’m still optimistic that we can pass comprehensive reform in 2013. The fact is, the American people have spoken loud and clear that they want us to fix our broken immigration system. The question is whether Congress is going to listen to the American people or not."

Though the National Mall is technically closed during the government shutdown, the National Park Service permitted the rally under a free speech exception that was also granted last week to World War II veterans, who were initially blocked from visiting the Mall.

Some Republicans, however, lashed out against the White House for allowing the protest. "It is grotesque that Obama is setting up 100 port[a] potties on mall for immigration rally while blocking veterans who fought for our nation," tweeted Newt Gingrich.

Culled

•    Cornyn still building campaign chest, despite lack of opponent (The Associated Press): "John Cornyn continues to rake in big fundraising bucks — even with no major Republican primary challenger or a Democrat yet emerging to try and take the U.S. Senate seat he has held since 2002. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican raised $1.8 million during the quarter that ended Sept. 30, campaign manager Brendan Steinhauser told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The official fundraising totals have not yet been released, but Steinhauser said Cornyn’s re-election bid for next year had $6.9 million in cash on-hand."

•    Wendy Davis gets glimpse of wounded troops' care in S.A. (San Antonio Express-News): "Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis explored San Antonio for a second day on Tuesday, meeting with veterans and quietly visiting military facilities that care for wounded troops and their families. The state senator from Fort Worth said she was 'blown away' by her private tour of the Center for the Intrepid, part of the San Antonio Military Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. She observed rehabilitation efforts at a model facility she'd heard about for years."

•    Ad Says Staples Will Thwart Democratic Growth (The Texas Tribune): "Republican Todd Staples' first commercial in the race for lieutenant governor touts his conservative credentials as an obstacle to Democratic efforts to turn Texas blue."

•    Parker, Hall trade criticisms in sole mayoral debate (Houston Chronicle): "Houston Mayor Annise Parker defended her initiatives and deflected a bevy of criticisms from her challengers on the state of the city's roads, finances and public transportation on Tuesday night in the first and only televised debate of this year's mayoral contest. Parker, vying for a third term, joined her top challenger Ben Hall and four lesser known and funded competitors for the two-hour forum-style debate aired on KUHT (Channel 8) and hosted by the League of Women Voters. Candidates answered dozens of questions about topics including crime, transportation, economic development and quality of life."

•    Major water campaign Water Texas PAC raises nearly $1 million (The Dallas Morning News): "Water Texas, the premiere political action committee pushing for a Nov. 5 water funding measure, raised nearly $1 million in August and September. Top backers of Water Texas, led by House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, include major energy, chemical and building interests in the state."

Quote to Note: "We'll see if we have a choice. Filing doesn’t close until December, but he may not have a challenger." — Toby Marie Walker, president of the Waco Tea Party, to Politico on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

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