FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2013 file photo Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, talks with committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., during a hearing about gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington. Weeks into his job, Texas Republicans are cheering Cruz's indelicate debut and embracing him as one of their own. The insurgent Republican elected with the tea party's blessing and bankroll, has run afoul of GOP mainstays, prompted Democrats to compare his style to McCarthyism. AP

Cruzin' for a Bruzin'

It's no secret that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has few friends in Washington, but now there seems to be an exceptional amount of energy on Capitol Hill devoted to criticizing him — especially after he introduced an amendment that would bar any immigrant in the United States illegally from gaining citizenship. "There's not much I agree with Ted Cruz on," said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, after the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with a delegation of young immigrants advocating for family reunification. But it's not just Hispanics who are frustrated with Cruz. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called him a "schoolyard bully" after the Texan objected to Reid's attempts to move toward a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate budgets. Cruz is unfazed. "I think most Americans are not really interested in petty political squabbles between politicians in Washington," he told National Journal.

Rebecca Kaplan

Help Wanted

Rep. John Barrow of Georgia announced this week he won't run for the Senate, leaving his party in a pinch. Barrow, as a moderate Blue Dog Democrat, was one of the few candidates who could put the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Saxby Chambliss in play. Without him, party leaders are looking at candidates with less-proven appeal to win crossover voters — a necessity in the conservative Southern state. Barrow's decision spotlights a broader challenge for Senate Democrats: They don't have candidates yet for three winnable Republican-held seats in Maine, Kentucky, and Georgia. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, despite running in an Obama-friendly state, has managed to keep her approval ratings high enough to dissuade any challengers. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, having dodged an Ashley Judd candidacy, is waiting for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to make her decision. And even though Democratic officials expected Georgia to be a top pickup opportunity, they acknowledge their path to victory is difficult without Barrow.

Josh Kraushaar

Murmurs

Mom's on Board House members were talking about their mothers this week, and it wasn't because Sunday is Mother's Day. A Republican bill to allow employers to substitute comp time for overtime pay had Democrats up in arms, calling it a plan with "more work, less pay for working mothers." "Happy Mother's Day!" a parade of Democratic women said during the debate on the bill. But Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana insisted that his mother, who has worked at a Delta Faucet factory for 40 years, "would have benefited from this bill" by having an opportunity to spend more time with her family. In a phone interview, Christine Messer said her son was exactly right. "When I had young children, I would have appreciated the fact that I could take a half-day or a day off to take them to the doctor or go to a school play," said Messer, 63.

Elevator Music Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah has been sporting thick-rimmed glasses à la CNN's Anderson Cooper in recent weeks, and his colleagues are starting to notice. "I like your glasses, Orrin," Sen. Patrick Leahy, 73, told Hatch this week as they crammed into a Capitol elevator. "Makes you look younger." Hatch, 79, replied, "I just wish I could see better, that's all." To which the Vermont Democrat retorted, "You could be like me, born blind in one eye." "Oh, I know; you've been one of my heroes," Hatch replied. Then the elevator doors opened and they parted ways.

Cruzin' for a Bruzin'

It's no secret that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has few friends in Washington, but now there seems to be an exceptional amount of energy on Capitol Hill devoted to criticizing him — especially after he introduced an amendment that would bar any immigrant in the United States illegally from gaining citizenship. "There's not much I agree with Ted Cruz on," said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, after the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with a delegation of young immigrants advocating for family reunification. But it's not just Hispanics who are frustrated with Cruz. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called him a "schoolyard bully" after the Texan objected to Reid's attempts to move toward a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate budgets. Cruz is unfazed. "I think most Americans are not really interested in petty political squabbles between politicians in Washington," he told National Journal.

Rebecca Kaplan

Help Wanted

Rep. John Barrow of Georgia announced this week he won't run for the Senate, leaving his party in a pinch. Barrow, as a moderate Blue Dog Democrat, was one of the few candidates who could put the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Saxby Chambliss in play. Without him, party leaders are looking at candidates with less-proven appeal to win crossover voters — a necessity in the conservative Southern state. Barrow's decision spotlights a broader challenge for Senate Democrats: They don't have candidates yet for three winnable Republican-held seats in Maine, Kentucky, and Georgia. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, despite running in an Obama-friendly state, has managed to keep her approval ratings high enough to dissuade any challengers. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, having dodged an Ashley Judd candidacy, is waiting for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to make her decision. And even though Democratic officials expected Georgia to be a top pickup opportunity, they acknowledge their path to victory is difficult without Barrow.

Josh Kraushaar

Murmurs

Mom's on Board House members were talking about their mothers this week, and it wasn't because Sunday is Mother's Day. A Republican bill to allow employers to substitute comp time for overtime pay had Democrats up in arms, calling it a plan with "more work, less pay for working mothers." "Happy Mother's Day!" a parade of Democratic women said during the debate on the bill. But Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana insisted that his mother, who has worked at a Delta Faucet factory for 40 years, "would have benefited from this bill" by having an opportunity to spend more time with her family. In a phone interview, Christine Messer said her son was exactly right. "When I had young children, I would have appreciated the fact that I could take a half-day or a day off to take them to the doctor or go to a school play," said Messer, 63.

Elevator Music Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah has been sporting thick-rimmed glasses à la CNN's Anderson Cooper in recent weeks, and his colleagues are starting to notice. "I like your glasses, Orrin," Sen. Patrick Leahy, 73, told Hatch this week as they crammed into a Capitol elevator. "Makes you look younger." Hatch, 79, replied, "I just wish I could see better, that's all." To which the Vermont Democrat retorted, "You could be like me, born blind in one eye." "Oh, I know; you've been one of my heroes," Hatch replied. Then the elevator doors opened and they parted ways.

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