Sen.Ted Cruz

Capital Tonight: Senate approves high school testing overhaul

Texas High Schools are one step closer to seeing some major reform.

Monday, the Senate unanimously passed forward a bill that would restructure graduation requirements and cut back on the number of standardized tests. But it includes some key differences from the House version passed in March.

We heard more on the bill from Sen. Eddie Lucio, the vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee.


Gun Bills Head to Senate

After surviving a contentious Saturday, a range of gun bills passed out of the House Monday. Harvey Kronberg of The Quorum Report joined us to talk about that and more. 


Perry’s Welcome Mat

We’re learning more about President Barack Obama’s visit to the Austin area Thursday.

In addition to Manor New Tech High School, he’ll be visiting Austin tech manufacturer Applied Materials. Now, Governor Perry is weighing in on the visit. 


Cruz replacing Perry in PPP presidential polling

Governor Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations are still unknown, but at least one polling outlet is already counting him out of the race.

Public Policy Polling announced today on Twitter that “Since Rick Perry is consistently at 1-2% in our 2016 polling we’re going to replace him with Ted Cruz for now”

The freshman Senator from Texas hasn’t made any indication that he’s planning a run for higher office, either. The rumor mill started churning last week after a National Review article cited several unnamed sources as saying Cruz was eyeing the nation’s top office.

Cruz dismissed the rumor saying he’s focused on his work in the Senate, but didn’t deny that he might consider a run for the presidency in the future.

Sen. Cruz dismissing 2016 presidential buzz

He’s only been senator for a  few months, but Sen. Ted Cruz’s actions on Capitol Hill are already prompting some to wonder about at possible 2016 presidential run. The first of such speculation came in the form of a National Review article citing unnamed Cruz confidants who say the freshman senator is pondering the possibility.

The Review quotes an anonymous insider as saying “If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention. Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”

Cruz, of course, has not made any public indication that he’s eyeing the Oval Office. He responded to the article on his Facebook page with a statement that reads:

“In my short tenure, my focus has been — and will remain — on two things: fighting for conservative principles in the Senate, and working to help elect strong conservatives to win a majority in the Senate in 2014. The Senate is the battlefield to defend liberty.

I was elected because thousands of grassroots conservatives came together to protect the Constitution, shrink the federal government, and promote growth and opportunity. It is a continued source of amazement that the simple fact that I am working hard with like-minded Senators to keep my promise is seen as newsworthy and cause for wild speculation.”

Regardless of Sen. Cruz’s possible hopes for higher office, there’s no denying he took the Capitol by storm. He has made national headlines after heated questioning over drone use and dust-ups with veteran senators like Dianne Feinstein. Cruz was also on the receiving end of criticism from members of his own party after he supported a filibuster on a bipartisan gun legislation package that later failed a floor vote.

Capital Tonight : Appraising the Devastation

Lawmakers visit Accident Site

U.S. senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz visited West today to see the devastation.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples joined Karina Kling to discuss the scene he witnessed passing through West shortly after the explosion. Staples also discussed the setback to agriculture the explosion is likely to have on food production.

Senate District 22

(R) Sen. Brian Birdwell joined Karina Kling from West, Texas. Birdwell discussed the damage he witnessed in West and how the local leadership is handling the situation.

Reporter Roundtable

Scott Braddock with the Quorum Report, Christy Hoppe from the Dallas Morning News and Jay Root with The Texas Tribune joined Karina Kling to discuss the events in politics this week.


Texas’ senators remember Margaret Thatcher

Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are remembering former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher today.

Thatcher died of a stroke today in her London home. She was the youngest woman to serve in the British Parliament and the only woman to serve as prime minister. Thatcher was 87.

Sen. Cornyn released this statement on her death:

“Formidable in every respect, Margaret Thatcher was a steadfast defender of liberty, a fierce advocate of freedom, and a great friend to the United States.  She never hesitated to remind Americans of our own obligations to the cause of freedom and the need for political courage to do what is right in the face of overwhelming adversity.  Today, Americans and all freedom-loving people around the world mourn her passing.  We will remember Lady Thatcher not only as the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but as a transformative figure who revitalized her country and stared down tyranny.  She was a loving mother, a devoted wife, and a supporter of liberty.  May she rest in peace, and may we honor her memory through an unwavering commitment to freedom and individualism.”

 Here’s in Sen. Cruz’s statement:

“Today the world mourns the loss of an extraordinary leader, the great Margaret Thatcher.

Utterly fearless, she never once went wobbly. Rejecting the failures of socialism, she won the argument for liberty, and her name is synonymous with the policies that restored peace, prosperity, growth, and stability at a time when it seemed like the United Kingdom had none.

It was truly a Providential blessing that she served alongside President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II — together the three of them stood unshakable, defended humanity, and won the Cold War without firing a shot. Her magnificent intellect and unwavering work ethic helped her become Britain’s first and only female prime minister — an ascent that wasn’t a matter of breaking through the glass ceiling, but simply refusing to acknowledge its existence.”

The world will forever be in her debt; Lady Thatcher was one of kind. Long live the memory of our dearly departed Iron Lady.

Former President George H.W. Bush was president during Thatcher’s final two years as British prime minister. He released a statement from his home in Houston calling Thatcher “one of the 20th centruy’s fiercest advocates of freedom and free markets.”

Capital Tonight: The Week in Review

Reporter Roundtable

Christy Hoppe from The Dallas Morning News, Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report and Jay Root of The Texas Tribune sat down with Paul Brown to discuss this week’s events in politics, including recently passed education legislation. They also talked about the Texas Faith and Family rally and the need for water legislation this session.

Fact checking Sen. Ted Cruz

Gardner Selby from PolitiFactTexas discussed Sen. Cruz’s statements at CPAC this week.


Capital Tonight: Debating Medicaid expansion

Hundreds of activists rallied outside the Texas Capitol Thursday, as part of Planned Parenthood lobbying day.

This year’s efforts had particular urgency, now that the organization has been cut out of the state’s Women’s Health Program. A bill making its way through the House aims to reverse that decision and bring back federal and state funding.


Debating Medicaid

Another question looming the 83rd Legislative Session is this: Should Texas expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act?

Proponents say it would pull down billions in federal dollars to help the uninsured. Critics, including the governor, say it forces Texas to spend too much money on a program that needs serious reform.

We spoke to John Davidson from the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Anne Dunkleberg from the Center for Public Policy Priorities about the research behind the debate.

After the filibuster

Sen. Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster Wednesday made national headlines. It also resulted in a new bill, proposed by Sen. Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, that would explicitly outlaw a drone killing on U.S. soil of an American citizen who doesn’t represent an imminent threat. 

Our Capital Commentators weighed in on the significance of the filibuster and the proposed bill.

Click the image below to watch Thursday’s full episode.

Cruz, Holder spar over possibility of drone attacks on American soil

Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder exchanged heated words over the hypothetical use of drone strikes in the United States. The grilling came during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington today.

Senate Republicans have been pressuring the White House to provide information used by the Justice Department to justify the use of lethal drone strikes against terror suspects overseas. Today, the focus was on the possibility that the military might use drone technology to target suspects on American soil.

In a letter to Sen. Rand Paul earlier this week, Holder said the military has never carried out a drone strike on U.S. soil and has “no intention of doing so.” Holder stopped short, however, of ruling out the possibility. He pointed out that a president might be prompted to take such action in an extraordinary circumstance like the Pearl Harbor or September 11th attacks.

During testimony today, Sen. Cruz pressed Holder on the issue. He posed a hypothetical question to the Attorney General: “If an individual is sitting quietly at a cafe in the United States, in your legal judgement does the constitution allow a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil to be killed by a drone?”

You can view Holder’s response and the full exchange in the video below:

Updated: Hagel confirmation moves forward without Texas senators’ support

Updated to add statement from Sen. Ted Cruz

Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary is moving forward. Several Republicans reversed their positions in a test vote today, clearing the way for confirmation.

The former Republican Senator has faced a rocky road so far, with the GOP forcing a filibuster and extending the debate earlier this month. Republicans have been highly critical of President Obama’s choice, accusing Hagel of being unfit to lead the U.S. military.

Despite today’s vote, dozens of Republicans still stand opposed. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz were among 15 republicans who signed a letter requesting that President Obama withdraw Hagel’s name from consideration.

Sen. John Cornyn released this statement, following today’s test vote:

“There is simply no way to sugarcoat it: Senator Hagel’s performance before the Senate Armed Services Committee was remarkably inept, and we should not be installing a Defense Secretary who is obviously not qualified for the job, and who holds dangerously misguided views on some of the most important issues facing national security policy for our country.” ~Sen. John Cornyn

Here is Sen. Ted Cruz’s statement:

“Chuck Hagel will be confirmed because Senate Democrats stood united behind President Obama’s nomination of the most controversial Secretary of Defense in modern times. No one has ever been confirmed to the position with more than 11 “no” votes, until today when a record number of senators voted against his nomination. A great many of us have been concerned about Hagel’s longstanding record of antagonism towards Israel and unwillingness to stand vigorously against Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons. I hope those concerns are proven wrong. I fervently hope that this confirmation does not embolden Iran to accelerate their nuclear weapons development; I fervently hope that this confirmation does not undermine our vital alliance with Israel. Chuck Hagel can prove his critics wrong by standing by his confirmation commitments. He has an enormous task ahead of him, and running the Defense Department will require principled leadership on the world’s stage. I wish Secretary Hagel success in his new role and am committed to working with him to keep America safe and strong.” ~Sen. Ted Cruz


With a Democratic majority in the Senate, Hagel is expected to easily pass a final confirmation vote. That is expected later today.

Cornyn, Cruz call on Obama to withdraw Hagel nomination

Senate Republicans are pressuring the White House to change its pick for Defense Secretary. In a letter to President Obama, Sen. Miniorty Whip John Cornyn points to the lack of bipartisan support for Hagel’s nomination and calls Hagel’s record “erratic.” 

Hagel, a former Republican Senator, has faced an uphill climb toward confirmation in the Senate, even among his former party-mates, who blocked an up-or-down confirmation vote last week.

Sen. Ted Cruz added his signature to Sen. Cornyn’s letter. In a statement, Cruz said, “Given Senator Hagel’s disturbing record on foreign policy and poor confirmation hearing performance, he lacks the trust and confidence needed to serve as Defense Secretary at such a critical time.”