Republican women have always played an important role in Texas politics, but this year, the GOP finds itself on the defensive in the campaign for women's votes. As KUT's Ben Phillpott reports, there's a new group to help address the issue: Red State Women.

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Viewership is declining. Washington seems increasingly dysfunctional and irrelevant to the daily lives of Americans. The presidency isn't the bully pulpit it used to be.

In an age of social media and divided audiences, the annual, constitutionally mandated State of the Union speech is beginning to look like a stuffy relic from a bygone era.

It's an institution in need of a makeover, which is precisely what the White House intends to do Tuesday night.

The National Security Agency "would welcome" the creation of a public advocate's position at the court that oversees its electronic surveillance programs, said its outgoing deputy director.

John C. "Chris" Inglis, who retires Friday after more than seven years as the NSA's No. 2, told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that "I would only put the caveat on there that it needs to be operationally efficient."

Just a week before the federal government could shut down if no agreement is reached to fund it past the end of September, it's anyone's guess whether Democrats and Republicans will avoid plunging over this particular cliff.

More certain, however, is that if a shutdown happens over Obamacare and Republicans wind up taking the heat, many GOP fingers of blame will point squarely at Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Texas Republican will likely become the face of the 2013 shutdown, just as Newt Gingrich became the poster boy of two government shutdowns of the mid-1990s.


Texas lawmakers in Washington want the Department of Homeland Security to define what successful border security means.

Today, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) filed legislation that would require the department to set metrics for achievement and solutions for reaching those standards.

Cornyn says it’s an important step to take in immigration reform.

Obama To Congress: With Or Without You

Feb 13, 2013

President Obama called repeatedly on Congress to address issues of paramount importance to the country during his State of the Union address Tuesday. But he also made it clear that when Congress fails to act or agree with his policies, he intends to push ahead on his own.

As is traditional for a State of the Union speech, Obama called on Congress to send legislation to his desk addressing not just immigration, gun control and the budget but a range of policy areas including women's rights, industrial policy and relief for homeowners.


New attention could be coming to a bill filed by a State Representative out of San Antonio. Democrat Ruth Jones McClendon filed the bill in November but the topic is timely.

McClendon says House Bill 205 would increase the availability of mental health beds provided by the state.

She says, right now, Texas provides one pool of funding for beds for two main categories of people in need of mental health services: those unable to make sound decisions and those detained for mental evaluation after a crime.

After Vice President Biden said Wednesday that the Obama administration might take some executive actions on the issues of guns and gun-related violence, questions naturally arose:

What kinds of things was he talking about? What might the administration do that doesn't require Congressional action?

President Obama announced this afternoon that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be his next secretary of state.

Kerry's long experience in the Senate (he was first elected in 1984) and especially in foreign affairs (he chairs the Foreign Relations Committee) mean the senator's "not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," Obama said.

We followed the short appearance at the White House by the president and Kerry and posted some highlights.

Details are starting to come out about President Obama's second inauguration next month. The co-chairmen include some leaders of the Democratic Party and the business world as well as actress Eva Longoria. A record crowd came to the nation's capital in 2009 to witness the country's first black president take the oath of office, but this event is expected to be less flashy.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Despite Gov. Rick Perry’s firm opposition to a key tenet of federal health reform — expanding the state’s Medicaid program for those with low incomes — Texas Democrats remain optimistic that the 2013 legislative session can yield a deal that brings in billions in additional federal dollars.

It will be a tough sell: No Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting the Medicaid expansion, which would add an estimated 1.8 million Texans onto the joint state-federal health plan by 2022.

But state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said fiscal conservatives have an incentive to reach an agreement “because the alternative is going to cost us much more economically and dig a much deeper hole in our budget.”

Women's health providers in Texas have had Nov. 1 marked on their calendars for months. It was supposed to be the day the state-funded Women's Health Program would launch. But it hasn't. And it won't until, according to Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials, the federal government stops funding it or a final court decision is rendered.