Politics & Government

Ted Cruz gives first lady a rare shoutout

Pete Marovich/MCT

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gave an unusual shoutout for an unusual reason last week.

He praised first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during her short visit with the president to Saudi Arabia. They were paying their respects to the country upon the death of King Abdullah.

On his Facebook account, Cruz said: “Kudos to First Lady Michelle Obama for standing up for women worldwide and refusing to wear a Sharia-mandated head-scarf in Saudi Arabia. Nicely done.”

A good month

State Sen. Jane Nelson broke new ground this year.

Nelson, R-Flower Mound, became the first woman to chair the Senate Finance Committee during a regular legislative session.

Then Nelson, whose district includes part of Fort Worth, was named the 2014 Citizen of the Year by the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce.

“It is a great honor to follow in the footsteps of so many of our wonderful local leaders who have received this award over the years,” she said.

New recognition

Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, won the race for Senate District 10 last year.

Now her Democratic competitor, Libby Willis, has won something else: recognition for a campaign ad.

Willis’ ad, “Brake Shop — Willis for Texas Senate,” was a finalist in the 2015 Reed Awards.

Produced by the New Media Firm of Washington, D.C., the ad was runner-up in the “Best TV Ad for Democratic State Legislative Candidate” category.

Burton won the race to replace Wendy Davis in the Texas Senate, claiming 52.08 percent of the vote to Willis’ 44.71 percent, Libertarian Gene Lord’s 1.38 percent and Green Party John Tunmire’s 0.45 percent.

Texas leaders

Texas Republicans are taking charge of key subcommittees in the new Congress, with Sen. John Cornyn leading the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution.

Cornyn, the majority whip, shortened the name of the panel, previously known as the subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

Cruz heads up the space and science subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He’s already generated buzz by saying NASA should emphasize space exploration, a sentiment that environmental groups have taken as a threat to the agency’s role in monitoring climate change.

In the House, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, is chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade.

And Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, who represents part of Tarrant County, moved to the House Financial Services Committee chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas.

Williams had to give up seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Budget Committee to be on the more powerful Financial Services Committee.

Maria Recio, 202-383-6103

Twitter: @maria_e_recio

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley