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Cruz Pulls Out of Major Speech to Faith and Freedom Group

Also, the Texas Association of Business calls for expanded opportunity for full-day pre-K for children already qualified for public pre-K and Gov. Abbott calls for a federal disaster declaration for recent flooding.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz sits by himself in a hotel suite as he prepares for his keynote speech to Republican delegates in Dallas …

Ted Cruz has pulled out of what would have been one of his first major speeches since leaving the presidential race.

The U.S. senator from Texas was originally scheduled to address the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference, which is being held over the next few days in Washington, D.C. But a spokesman for the group said Wednesday night Cruz "will not be appearing" at the confab anymore.

The spokesman, Lance Lemmonds, said the group was not provided with a reason for why Cruz is no longer coming to the conference. "Just said he couldn't make it," Lemmonds wrote in an email.

Cruz has kept a relatively low profile since ending his campaign more than a month ago. The only major speech he has delivered since then was on May 14 at the Texas GOP convention in Dallas.

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At his press conference this morning at the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was asked if he had any regrets about how Gov. Greg Abbott handled the Trump U. investigation in 2010 while he was attorney general.

“That was up to him," Paxton said. "You’d have to ask him. Obviously I wasn't here when that all occurred. He did a great job as attorney general."

Paxton did not elaborate on the issue during the conference, where he was announcing a lawsuit against the state of Delaware for millions of dollars he claims the state owed Texas and 20 other states.

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U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, successfully passed a bill through the House Wednesday to delay the Obama administration's new ozone pollution standards.

In a mostly party line vote, the bill passed 234-177. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, crossed party lines to back the bill.

The aim of Olson and his allies is to reduce pollution while giving local governments flexibility amid murky guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency. Opponents — mostly Democrats and environmentalists — argue the legislation is an attack on the Clean Air Act and the overall goal of reducing pollution.

“Our nation has worked hard to reduce ozone levels and improve air quality,” Olson said in a statement. “As we continue this progress, we need to give states better tools to meet air quality goals efficiently.”

“As we work to keep this trend moving in the right direction, my bill provides needed flexibility so that states and localities can adequately achieve new, lower standards with time for compliance,” he added. “I’m proud that this common sense bill received bipartisan support in the House and I urge the Senate to act quickly as well.”

The bill still needs Senate passage and would need President Obama’s signature to become law. That trajectory remains unclear at this point.

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The Texas Association of Business's board of directors now supports expanding full-day public pre-K programs to all children who qualify for public pre-K already.

In a press release announcing the vote, the TAB said it "wants to ensure that these full-day programs meet the highest quality standards" and suggested that the state education commissioner "be given the authority to set rules to measure the effectiveness of curriculum and professional development."

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Gov. Greg Abbott is asking President Obama to declare a "major disaster" in Texas and offer federal assistance to counties affected by flooding that started in late May.

Specifically, Abbott requested that the Obama administration make individual and public assistance and hazard mitigation available to Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hidalgo, Hood, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Travis, Waller and Washington counties.

"The last year has taken a terrible toll on the people and the property of this state. Texans are resilient, but few can recover without assistance when disaster after disaster hits in the middle of recovery," Abbott wrote. "Texans will overcome these challenges, but assistance is needed from the federal government."

U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sent Obama a letter on Thursday endorsing Abbott's request.

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Spotted outside the U.S. Capitol Thursday afternoon: Vicente Gonzalez, the Democratic nominee in the open-seat race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa. Gonzalez is, presumptively, the next Congressman from South Texas, as the Texas 15th Congressional district is strong Democratic territory.

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, was with him and introduced him to members leaving the Capitol after a vote series. 
As reported in the Blast on Wednesday, Democratic leaders are hosting a fundraiser for Gonzalez. Gonzalez mostly self-funded his campaign amid a competitive primary.

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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