News Roundup: U.S. Delegation, Including Sen. Ted Cruz, Opens Controversial Embassy In Israel

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMay 14, 2018 1:31 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A couple of Texans, including Senator Ted Cruz, were in Israel Monday to attend the controversial opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. Cruz, who was one of four U.S. senators at the ceremony, has been a longtime advocate of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In an op-ed he penned for the Jerusalem Post, Cruz wrote, “Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the U.S. embassy sends a powerful message that American will stand by our friends and allies, and we will stand up to our enemies.”

Another Texan was also on hand to give a blessing at the event. Robert Jeffress is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and an advisor to President Donald Trump. He gave a blessing that began, “Heavenly father, we come before you, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thanking you for bringing us to bringing us to this momentous occasion in the life of your people and in the history of our world,” and thanked President Trump for his leadership.

Former Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney criticized the inclusion of Jeffress ahead of the ceremony. Romney called the mega-church leader a “religious bigot” for offensive remarks Jeffress has made about Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.

The Washington Post reports that Israeli soldiers have killed dozens of Palestinians and wounded more than a thousand in Gaza who are protesting the embassy’s relocation.

Early voting for the May 22 primary runoff elections begins today and runs through this Friday. There are more than 30 races taking place to decide who will appear on the ballot during the general election in November.

The Texas Tribune has this helpful tool for getting to know all of the candidates. Sam Taylor, with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, explains one benefit of early voting is that you can cast a ballot anywhere in your county.

“On election day, however, if you’re in a county that doesn’t have countywide voting, then you have to go to your particular precinct to vote in that one,” Taylor says.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. during early voting.

More information on the runoff elections and what you need to vote can be found at

Texas needs to come up with a plan to comply with the National Voter Registration Act – also known as the “motor voter” law – by Thursday.

A federal judge says the state is violating this 20-year-old law because it does not allow Texans to register to vote when they update their drivers’ license information online. Beth Stevens is with the Texas Civil Rights Project, which sued the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2016 on behalf of voters. Stevens explains that while Texas does not allow online voter registration in general, in this case, federal law requires the state to provide that option.

“The federal law basically says no matter how you allow folks to get their drivers’ license or update their drivers’ license, when you have that process they have to be offered the opportunity to register to vote or to update their voter registration if they’re already registered,” she says. “And so, if you allow them to transact with DPS online, you also have to allow for the voter registration opportunity in that space.”

The ruling could effect 1.5 million Texans annually – that’s how many people renew their drivers licenses online each year.