Here is Your Morning Brief for November 17, 2014.

barack obama
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Obama Stays Defiant

According to CNN, President Obama isn't ready to give in to Republican demands and senior aides to the President still don't believe that the Republican wave on election day had anything to do with him.

Side-by-side in Myanmar with the world's most famous dissident, Obama refused to bow to what Republicans regard as the capital's new political "reality."

On the veranda of the lakeside villa from where Aung San Suu Kyi faced

down a junta, Obama said he had long warned House Republicans he would use executive power to reform the US immigration system if they failed to.

"That's gonna happen. That's gonna happen before the end of the year."

The president doubled down in Australia on Sunday, before boarding Air Force One for home, saying he would be derelict in his duties if he did not act.

"I can't wait in perpetuity when I have authorities that at least for the next two years can improve the system," he said.

White House officials have not said when Obama will wield his executive powers in a move that could remove the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented people. But they say it will be soon.

While Obama was abroad, post-election tensions escalated sharply on Capitol Hill as happy talk from both sides about working together quickly ebbed away.

Senior aides dispute the idea the elections were a referendum on the President and say Obama is at his best when he is on "offense" and believe that's what Americans want to see.

So, as he trekked through Asia, Obama rattled Republicans almost every day.

He surprised everyone with a new climate deal with China that the GOP slammed as costly and "ridiculous." He popped up on video to discuss new Internet regulations that may spark another row. He refused to budge on approving the Keystone XL pipeline to take oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. He may veto a bill on the project that Congress is expected to pass this week.

While in Asia, the president debunked the idea that the plan, opposed by environmentalists in his political base, would create lots of jobs and lower gas prices.

Obama says he still wants to work with Republicans on tax reform and infrastructure spending bills. But it looks like he has decided that he won't compromise his legacy priorities to get that done.

As I've said before, the President loves the spotlight and it is always about him. Obama will do whatever he wants and will dare Republicans to stop him.

Conservatives Want Vote on Texas Speaker's Race

The Dallas Morning News has a good wrap-up of the Texas Speaker's Race. While no votes will be cast until January, now is the time that lawmakers are lobbying each other on what to do.

House Speaker Joe Straus picked up the support of key North Texas tea party lawmakers this week, making his re-election to the post appear inevitable. But there still should be a public vote on the matter in January, a campaign consultant to several staunchly conservative GOP House members said Friday.

Consultant Luke Macias said last week’s election sweep by Republican conservatives, both nationally and in Texas, makes it urgent that conservatives hold themselves and their colleagues to account.

“Nothing could be better for the speaker’s race on the first day of the session than to have a vote,” said Macias, who represents several of Straus’ most vocal House critics, such as GOP Reps. Jonathan Stickland of Bedford and Matt Schaefer of Tyler. “Let the chips fall, and then move on to the business of governing.”

Macias said Stickland, Schaefer and other House members who support Straus’ challenger, freshman Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, have long been aware of the discouraging math that makes Turner the longest of shots. But they still want a first-day vote, and Macias charged that Straus allies are fiercely resisting it.

“It’s about voting your district,” Macias said, using legislative shorthand for when members break party or other lines to vote the way they believe their constituents would want.

He said conservative activists blame Straus for not allowing votes for tighter spending rules, more abortion restrictions and a constitutional amendment to bar government from putting “a burden” on religious liberty. Straus supporters noted that other bills Macias cited died in House committees, a sign that the majority was working its will in the chamber.

In none of Straus’ three earlier runs for speaker was there a contested vote as the session opened. Former Speaker Tom Craddick exited the 2009 contest days before Straus, R-San Antonio, was initially elevated to the House’s top spot. In 2011 and 2013, other House members announced bids for the job but withdrew before a vote.

This week, the pressure to shut down Turner’s bid intensified.

On Monday night, freshman Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, shocked some audience members at a meeting of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party by saying Straus was a shoo-in and Turner was unqualified.

Late Thursday, tea party-backed North Texas House members such as Ron Simmons of Carrollton, Drew Springer of Muenster and James Frank of Wichita Falls issued a letter in which they joined Capriglione in endorsing Straus and saying they were “proud of the accomplishments of the Texas House in recent years.”

The signers cited new laws to require voters to show photo identification, further restrict abortion clinics and doctors, remove funding for Planned Parenthood, increase state funding for border policing, cut taxes and resist federal Medicaid expansion.

“No action of the Legislature is more divisive than a speaker’s race,” the seven House Republicans wrote. They said that to fight “liberal policies at all levels of government” will require “unprecedented unity among Republicans as we enter the 84th Legislature in January.”


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