Politics

Politics
2:18 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Senate Confirms Burwell To Top Post At Health And Human Services

Sylvia Mathews Burwell won Senate approval as the new secretary of health and human services.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 2:31 pm

The Senate has voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell to the post of secretary of health and human services, where she will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who presided over the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

In a 78-17 vote, Burwell, who served most recently as White House budget director, was approved Thursday.

In a statement released by the White House press office, President Obama said he applauded the confirmation of Burwell.

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Politics
6:34 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Bergdahl's Hometown Cancels Celebration Of His Return

Hailey, Idaho: A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl outside Zaney's coffee shop, where Bergdahl worked as a teenager. A rally celebrating his return home has been canceled, after organizers received threats of protests and hate mail.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 7:48 am

The news of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release from five years of captivity had been welcomed as a reason to celebrate in Hailey, Idaho. But organizers of a rally held in Bergdahl's honor while he was a prisoner say they're canceling this year's event, citing backlash over the U.S. deal with the Taliban that freed him.

In recent years, the Bring Back Bowe Rally has been an annual June event in the small town of Hailey, where bikers and POW-MIA support groups gathered to call for his return. Last year's event reportedly drew a crowd of more than 3,000.

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GOP Convention
4:17 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Draft of State GOP Platform Cuts Guest-Worker Language

A fight on Immigration language in the party platform is expected this year.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

As Texas Republicans prepare to convene Thursday in Fort Worth for their three-day state party convention, an early draft of the party's platform shows that language, approved two years ago,supporting a guest-worker program could be removed.

The draft, which was obtained by the Texas Tribune, shows that the language calling for a guest-worker program has been replaced with language to support the enactment of a provisional visa program. The guest-worker program language in 2012 was an unprecedented change to the official state party platform. It called for a national temporary worker program, which would allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. when jobs are available but citizens are unavailable.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Amazing Grace: A Love Letter to Texas Women in Politics

Annie's List Executive Director Grace Garcia was a second-generation Mexican American and San Antonio native.
Credit Texas Tribune

Earlier this year, our partners at Texas Monthly opined that 2014 might just be the year for Latina women in Texas politics. But this week, Texas lost it's most politically powerful Latina – and chances are you may not have heard her name until now. 

Grace Garcia died this week in North Texas, en route to a political event featuring Leticia Van de Putte and Wendy Davis. Garcia was Executive Director of Annie's List, a group committed to electing Democratic women.

Though Garcia was unelected, her impact on national and regional politics will likely span generations. So says political strategist Harold Cook in a moving tribute.

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Guns
6:00 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Gun Law Explainer: Where Can You Carry in Texas?

Open carry supporters hope to make further progress during the Texas Republican Convention this weekend.
Erika Rich/Texas Tribune

Over the last few months, exactly where you can carry a gun in Texas has been in the national spotlight. That discussion has kicked up again at this weekend’s Texas GOP convention, where open carry advocates are barred from attending with guns and rifles.

Texas gun laws are already pretty unrestrictive. Here is a rundown:

Owning a gun:

  • You don't need a state permit to purchase a gun
  • You don't have to register a firearm
  • Assault rifles are legal

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Politics
8:14 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Annie's List Executive Director Killed in Fatal Crash

Grace Ann Garcia.
Credit annieslist.com

Grace Garcia, the executive director of the Democratic women-in-politics group Annie's List, was killed in a fatal car accident in Waxahachie on Monday, the organization said early Tuesday morning.

"It is with a tremendous sense of loss that we announce the passing of our executive director and leader Grace Garcia, who lost her life in a car accident Monday afternoon," Annie's List board chair Amber Anderson Mostyn said in a statement. 

Garcia came to work for Annie's List after serving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a senior adviser in the Office of the Chief of Protocol. Before working at the State Department, she ran an event management and public affairs firm she founded in 2001.

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GOP Convention
2:53 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Booze Rules Bar Open Carry Gun Groups from Texas Republican Convention

Open carry supporters won't be able to bring their guns into the Texas GOP convention.
Twitter user @SocialMatchbox and David Yoakum/Twitter user @davidb00ts

Texas Republicans have been vocal supporters of expanding gun rights in Texas. So groups pushing for laws that would expand the ability to carry firearms openly expected to be welcomed at this week's state GOP convention in Fort Worth. But the Texas GOP says the guns, themselves, will have to stay out.

Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri wants the groups to know they are certainly welcome to attend the Republican convention, but their guns will have to remain outside because alcohol is served at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

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Veterans Affairs
10:52 am
Fri May 30, 2014

VA Chief Eric Shinseki Resigns Post, Obama Announces

Eric Shinseki resigned as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, in what President Obama said was a decision spurred by a desire to not distract from efforts to fix the agency's problems. Earlier Friday, Shinseki spoke at a conference in Washington.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 12:10 pm

Embattled Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned his position, hours after saying he would work to fix "systemic" problems in the VA's health care system.

President Obama said Friday that the decision was made so Shinseki wouldn't be a "distraction" from efforts to address the agency's wide-ranging problems.

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GOP Convention
4:02 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Gay Conservatives Denied 'Official' Spot at Texas GOP Convention

Log Cabin Republicans want an official spot at next week's Texas GOP convention.
logcabin.org

The Texas Republican Party has denied the Log Cabin Republicans a space at next week's state convention. Log Cabin Republicans represent gay conservatives and supporters of marriage equality in the party. 

Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Gregory Angelo says the state party denied the group’s application for a booth at the convention because, as homosexuals, they disagree with a plank in the party platform. The plank reads, in part, that "homosexuality tears at the fabric of society."

"It was our obligation to let the voters of Texas know and to let members of the Republican Party in Texas know that that language is in the party platform and it is being used to intentionally exclude gay Republicans from formal participation in the state GOP convention," Angelo says.

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Address at West Point
11:08 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Obama Emphasizes Importance Of Alliances In Foreign Policy Address

President Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday. In a broad defense of his foreign policy, the president declared that the U.S. remains the world's most indispensable nation, even after a "long season of war," but he underscored that not every global problem has a military solution.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 1:37 pm

President Obama sought to recast if not reboot his overall approach to foreign policy with his graduation address at West Point on Wednesday.

In essence answering critics who have complained that his administration has lacked forceful responses to challenges in places such as Syria, Iran, Ukraine and Nigeria, Obama emphasized that "America must always lead on the world stage."

But he underscored that not every global problem has a military solution.

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Primary Runoff Election
9:57 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Texas Primary Runoff Election Results & Analysis

Repubican State Rep. Dan Patrick chats with reporters while stoping at a polling station in Cypress, Texas Tuesday, May 27, 2014 to stump for votes in his runoff for the Republican spot for Lt Gov. against Lt Gov David Dewhurst.
Michael Stravato/Texas Tribune

Polls across Texas are now closed in the 2014 Democratic and Republican primary runoff elections. Since the start of early voting May 19, voters have selected six candidates that will run in November's general election. 

Republican runoff voters cast ballots in four contests:

  • The bitter battle for Lieutenant Governor nominee, pitting incumbent David Dewhurst against State Sen. Dan Patrick. Patrick has won the nomination.
  • The Attorney General battle between State Rep. Dan Branch and State Sen. Ken Paxton. Paxton has won the nomination.
  • The Agriculture Commissioner contest between former state Reps. Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller. Miller has won the nomination.
  • The Railroad Commissioner runoff between former state Rep. Wayne Christian and oil and gas consultant Ryan Sitton. Sitton has won the nomination.

On the Democratic side, two contests:

  • The nominee for U.S. Senate, between establishment favorite David Alameel and outsider Kesha Rogers. Alameel has won the nomination.
  • The Agriculture Commissioner runoff between entertainer Kinky Friedman and unknown Jim Hogan. Hogan has won the nomination.

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War in Afghanistan
11:16 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Obama Plans To Leave Residual Force Of 9,800 In Afghanistan

Sgt. Kyle Gonzales, a sniper with the 82nd Airborne, has a cigarette after a gun battle near the village of Babaker, Giro district, Ghazni province. The soldiers have engaged in gun battles every time they push into the hamlets north of their forward operating base.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 4:31 pm

(This post was last updated at 3:00 p.m. ET.)

President Obama announced on Tuesday a plan to leave a residual force of 9,800 service members in Afghanistan beyond 2014. By 2016, most troops will be out of the country.

"It's time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on... wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

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Runoff Elections
8:15 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Six Races on Today's Primary Runoff Ballot

It's Primary Runoff day in Texas.
flickr.com/whiteafrican

It's been 12 weeks since the March primaries. And with so much time, and in some cases so much money on hand, some of the six races on the ballot have turned pretty nasty.

At the top of the list is the headline-grabbing Republican Lieutenant Governor's race between incumbent David Dewhurst and State Senator Dan Patrick.

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Lieutenant Governor's Race
12:44 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

A Mysterious Mailer Closes the Heated Runoff for Texas Lieutenant Governor

A mailer appearing across the state links incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst with Tea Party favorites.

Update: Today, KUT's Ben Philpott talked to WBUR's Here and Now about the Lieutenant Governor primary. Listen to the interview here

Original story (7 a.m.): A political mailer was sent to hundreds of thousands of Republican voters recently, calling on them to elect what it called “Tea Party Champions” in tomorrow’s Republican runoff elections. But many Tea Party leaders in the state have never heard of the group that put out the glossy ad.

The previously unheard of "United Texas Tea Party" isn't the only fishy thing about this mailer, according to Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson. It shows Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst alongside Tea Party-backed candidates like Attorney General candidate Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Sid Miller. That’s despite the fact that most Tea Party groups back Dewhurst's opponent, State Sen. Dan Patrick.

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Lt. Governor Race
12:36 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Mudslinging Continues In Texas Lieutenant Governor Race

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 1:49 pm

Republican candidates in the Texas lieutenant governor’s race are in the midst of a nasty battle leading up to a run-off election tomorrow.

Incumbent David Dewhurst and his opponent Senator Dan Patrick have been launching vicious attacks against one another, exposing all of the skeletons in each other’s closets — from mental health history to bankruptcy and name changes.

Ben Philpott of KUT in Austin  joins Jeremy Hobson to discuss the vicious race.

[Youtube]

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Gay Marriage
12:25 pm
Sat May 24, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Keep Up Their Winning Streak

Christopher DiCapua, left, and Oscar Cabrera kiss after saying their wedding vows on Friday at City Hall in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania became the final northeastern state and the 19th in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 10:46 am

Same-sex marriage supporters continued to enjoy considerable legal momentum this week.

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Politics
7:28 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

President Obama Nominates San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro for Cabinet Post

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 22, 2012.
Spencer Selvidge

Before a packed crowd in the White House’s state dining room, President Obama on Friday nominated San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to become the newest — and youngest — member of his cabinet, as the secretary of housing and urban development.

“I am nominating another all-star who’s done a fantastic job in San Antonio over the last five years,” the president said between jokes about the “good-looking” mayor who had proved to be a “pretty good speaker.”

Pending Senate confirmation, Castro will replace Shaun Donovan, whom the president has tapped as the new director for the Office of Management and Budget.

KUT's Ben Philpott explains the politics behind Castro's move to Washington.

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Castro to HUD
4:37 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Obama To Nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro For Housing Secretary

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivers the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in 2012. President Obama is expected to announce Castro's nomination to become housing secretary on Friday.
Jason Reed Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 8:01 am

A White House official said Thursday that President Obama will tap San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to become housing secretary and Shaun Donovan, his current housing chief, to run the budget office.

A formal announcement is scheduled to be made on Friday afternoon.

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Politics
2:54 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

With Talk Of Cabinet Position Swirling, City Ponders Life Without Mayor Castro

Mayor Julián Castro delivered the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. The speech, many have said, put him on a national platform.
Ryan Loyd TPR News

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 11:57 am

The White House isn't talking and neither is Mayor Julián Castro.

Today he helped hand out awards inside city council chambers to businesses for the 2014 Healthy Workplace Recognition Program.

Afterward, a swarm of media caught up with him, only to hear the three-term mayor say what he's said before.

"All I'm going to say today is that I enjoy being mayor, and I'm going to continue to work hard on behalf of the people that elected me," Castro said. "I'll talk about the future and other things later."

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Elections 2014
7:15 am
Mon May 19, 2014

A May 27th Primary Runoff Election Primer

The statewide candidates in primary runoffs.

Early voting starts today for the May 27 primary runoff election.

What's on the Ballot:

The Republican ballot includes a runoff for the Lieutenant Governor nomination between incumbent David Dewhurst and State Senator Dan Patrick and also runoffs for Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Railroad Commissioner.

On the Democratic side, voters will pick a U.S. Senate candidate and a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Who Can Vote:

Those who cast a ballot in the March 4 primary election can only vote in the same party’s primary runoff. Those who didn’t vote in the primary may choose which primary to vote in.

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