• Ted Cruz Won’t Rule Out Another Shutdown, But McConnell Does (ABC News): It’s the question on everyone’s minds: could the country be pushed to the brink of another shutdown when government funding runs out in January? Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who pushed the strategy to tie government funding to defunding President Obama’s health care law, wouldn’t rule out revisiting it in the coming months. 'I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,' Cruz said when asked by ABC News’ Jon Karl whether he would rule out another shutdown. 'The test that matters Jon, is are we doing anything for all the people that are getting hurt from Obamacare?'"
• Mitch McConnell defends deal, slams Obamacare tactics (Politico): "At the end of the day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he had no good option in the 16-day government shutdown fight. House Speaker John Boehner’s strategy collapsed. Ted Cruz’s push to use a shutdown to defund Obamacare was 'not a smart play' and a 'tactical error,' he said. And the country was staring at the threat of a prolonged shutdown and a potentially disastrous default on a nearly $17 trillion national debt."
• Democrat announces bid for Attorney General (San Antonio Express-News): "Houston attorney and fortuitously named Democrat Sam Houston announced Thursday his plans to make a statewide run at Attorney General, making him the first Democrat to officially toss his hat in the ring."
• Branch vows to ‘attack’ voter fraud in Texas (San Antonio Express-News): "State Rep. Dan Branch announced Thursday his proposal to create a Voter Fraud Task Force if elected as Attorney General. 'I have a clear plan to attack voter fraud in Texas,' Branch, R-Dallas, said in a press release."
New in The Texas Tribune
• With Shutdown Over, Immigration Reform Advocates Step Up Efforts: "After President Barack Obama on Thursday said that Congress can now focus on tackling immigration reform after ending the federal shutdown, advocates called on Congress to fix the system before the end of the year."
• TxDOT Releases Names of Top Toll Scofflaws: "The state transportation department on Thursday morning released the names of the top 25 toll scofflaws in Texas. The violators owe thousands of dollars in unpaid tolls, with the largest bill totaling more than $230,000."
• Texas Prepares to Shutter High-Risk Insurance Pool: "Texas' high-risk insurance pool for some of the state’s sickest residents will close at year's end, pushing participants to find coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace. Advocates are getting the word out to ensure residents don't have a lapse in coverage."
• Shutdown Took its Toll on Texas Farmers, Ranchers: "During the federal government shutdown, Texas agricultural producers were unable to access key pricing data, low-cost loans for their operations or disaster relief payments that many have been hoping for."
• Proposed Protections for Cuckoo Cause Concern: "Some state officials and farmers and ranchers in West Texas worry that efforts to provide federal protection for the yellow-billed cuckoo will damage their industry. And the federal government's recent partial shutdown has meant there have been few answers to questions about the proposed new regulations."