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The Brief: Oct. 10, 2013

More than a week into the government shutdown, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn sees a potential end in sight.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, decries Obamacare at a Capitol press conference on April 1, 2013.

The Big Conversation

More than a week into the government shutdown, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn sees a potential end in sight.

Cornyn's new cause for hope came Wednesday as House Republicans — who have been locked in a fight with the White House and Senate Democrats over defunding Obamacare — appeared to inch toward negotiations that could reopen the government.

"My optimism comes from my knowledge that there's going to be an end here soon," Cornyn said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "The negotiating always gets the most tense before the ice breaks and a solution is floated. I can tell you from my personal knowledge that there are a lot of people, Democrats and Republicans, talking about solutions to this standoff."

Op-eds from two key House Republicans, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, signaled that the GOP had largely abandoned its push to defund the health care law and had instead turned to possible negotiations over long-term deficit reduction as part of the upcoming debt ceiling fight.

"I think we've now discovered that this has morphed into the debt ceiling debate," said Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. "The debt ceiling is where the big money is and where I think the fight has to be — where we have to draw the line in the sand."

Cornyn, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also appeared willing to at least consider a proposal from Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, that would reopen the government and possibly raise the debt ceiling while repealing Obamacare's medical device tax.

"There’s a lot of different ideas out there, and I think that’s good," Cornyn told Politico.

Other conservatives, however, objected to GOP leaders' apparent willingness to shift the debate away from Obamacare. 

As Amanda Carpenter, a senior communications adviser to Texas' own Ted Cruz, tweeted on Wednesday in response to Ryan's column: "There is one big word missing from this op-ed. It's start with an O and ends with BAMACARE."


•    Wendy Davis cheers Houston for eliminating rape kit backlog (Houston Chronicle): "State Sen. Wendy Davis was in Houston on Wednesday to tout the success of her sexual assault evidence bill approved by lawmakers this past session and to applaud the city on its elimination of a backlog of rape kits. Davis, who announced last week she is running for governor in 2014, said she hoped other Texas cities with similar backlogs will follow Houston's lead. … One charge has been filed and one arrest has been made in Houston so far as a result of DNA evidence found among those rape kits that were sitting on shelves so many years, said Mayor Annise Parker, who appeared with Davis during a news conference at city hall."

•    Perry calls for passage of Proposition 6 (Austin American-Statesman): "With the ever-shrinking Lake Travis behind him, Gov. Rick Perry stood atop a hill near Mansfield Dam on Wednesday to promote a ballot measure to transfer $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund to help pay for water projects across drought-ridden Texas. The stop was part of a tour that Perry is undertaking to build support for Proposition 6. The measure — on the Nov. 5 ballot — would change the state constitution to allow for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas."

•    Abbott Gets Boost From National Republicans in Effort to Reach Hispanics (The Texas Tribune): "Attorney General Greg Abbott, the GOP front-runner for governor, is getting help from the Republican National Committee to reach Hispanic voters in Texas. At a press conference [in Houston] on Wednesday, the RNC announced the launch of the Texas Hispanic Engagement Team, a statewide grassroots outreach initiative aimed at wooing Latinos."

Quote to Note: "Cruz is trying to start a wave of Salem witch trials in the G.O.P. on the shutdown and Obamacare, and that fear is impacting some people’s calculations on 2016." — Republican strategist Mike Murphy to The New York Times


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