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The Brief: Will Congress avoid a shutdown?

After a two-week break in their home districts, Texas congressional delegation members are returning to Washington on Tuesday for a bustling week that could include another attempt to repeal Obamacare.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn sits with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and wife Heidi Cruz at the Fort Hood Purple Heart ceremony on April 10, 2…

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Tribune today

• How much do public Texas universities spend on athletics? We've updated our "Ballpark Figures” app with the latest numbers here.

• From Ross Ramsey: Texas has a losing streak when it comes to redistricting and voter ID laws, with federal judges repeatedly finding that the state intentionally discriminated against minorities. Whose legal advice were they following?

• U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is still wrestling with a tough question: Is it worth giving up his seat in Congress for a long-shot challenge to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, particularly when another Democrat is already running?  

• Groups seeking curbs on lawsuits are cheering a controversial insurance bill at the Texas Capitol, while consumer advocates and some businesses are jeering it. 

• Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sided with the Texas Senate on Friday in a dispute over a budget trick using state transportation funds. 

• The Texas A&M University System chancellor's tenure is poised to last into the next decade. 

• A major pillar of ethics reform — one of Gov. Greg Abbott's emergency items this year — appears to be crumbling in the final weeks of the legislative session. 

• U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is maintaining a huge cash advantage ahead of his 2018 re-election race

What you need to know

Recess is over, and it's back to work for Congress. After a two-week break in their home districts, Texas delegation member are returning to Washington on Tuesday for a bustling week that could include another attempt to repeal Obamacare and a pressing effort to keep the federal government's doors open. Here's what you need to know

• The clock is ticking. In December, Congress passed a resolution to keep the federal government open through April 28. Now, Congress must pass a new spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The task seemed simple until last week, when reports surfaced that the White House was readying to take another stab at overhauling health care after an attempt to do so fell apart in March.

Sticky issues could complicate negotiations. The Trump administration last week signaled it may require border wall funding as part of any spending package — an item some Democrats suggested would be a deal-breaker. Many on Capitol Hill expect Congress to pass a short-term funding bill to sidestep a shutdown, buying time for a more substantive measure. "No one wants a shutdown," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday. "We want to keep it going."

• Some Texas members think Democrats will prompt a shutdown. "You know, I very much hope we don't have a shutdown," U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a key player in the 2013 government shutdown, told reporters last week. "I will say I'm concerned. I think [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and the Democrats want a shutdown." 

What we're reading

Links below lead to outside websites; we've noted paywall content with $.

'It's going to hit the poorest people': Zika outbreak feared on the Texas border, The Guardian

Austin College awarded $1.2M grant for STEM education program, Herald Democrat

Dallas Fed sees continued oil and gas recovery, The Midland Reporter-Telegram

Transgender bathrooms overshadow Dripping Springs school board race, Austin American-Statesman ($)

'We're hoping for a miracle': Dallas lawmaker is fasting to protest Texas sanctuary cities bill, The Dallas Morning News ($)

For your calendar 

Today: Join us in Austin or on our livestream as The Texas Tribune talks about what "Repeal and Replace" could mean for Texas. This is the beginning of a three-part conversation series on health care. RSVP.

Quote to note

"The life outside is much more attractive to them than what we have to offer them. And people out there take advantage of the kids. So that’s what we have to deal with."

Rosie Christal, program director for the state's child welfare agency, about the Texas foster care system

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email thebrief@texastribune.org.

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