Cruz, conservatives criticize immigration crisis bill
WASHINGTON (AP) - A bill to deal with the immigration surge on the U.S.-Mexico border won a temporary reprieve in the Senate Wednesday as lawmakers tried to respond to the crisis before adjourning for the summer.
Senators voted 63-33 to advance the $3.5 billion emergency spending bill over an initial procedural hurdle. But with Republicans and a few Democrats opposed, there was little expectation that the legislation would ultimately prevail with only days left before Congress' annual August recess.
It was unclear whether House Speaker John Boehner would be able to count on enough support to pass the bill as he aimed for a vote Thursday.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz summoned House conservatives to a meeting Wednesday night to strategize. Cruz has argued that no bill should pass unless it repeals a two-year-old Obama directive granting work permits to immigrants brought here illegally as kids, and some House conservatives were issuing similar demands.
Perry: America must end 'ambivalence' on Israel
DALLAS (AP) - Texas Governor Rick Perry has told a pro-Israel rally in Dallas that America must end a "policy of calculated ambivalence" toward the Middle East.
But Perry mostly refrained from attacking American policy toward Israel in his brief short speech Wednesday.
Several hundred people waved white-and-blue flags and cheered as Perry described his visits to Israel and his desire that the country remain a Jewish state.
Thousands of people have died during several weeks of fighting between Israeli soldiers and insurgents in the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
Perry has long touted his support for Israel as the Republican finishes his last term as governor and explores a second run for president.
Evacuation alarm sounds at Austin airport, no fire
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A fire alarm that prompted some passengers to evacuate Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has been blamed on a worker who was welding.
Airport spokesman Jim Halbrook (HAL'-brook) says there was no fire Wednesday morning and operations returned to normal after about 15 minutes.
Halbrook says the alarm and audio order to evacuate the 25-gate terminal was set off by some welding during concourse construction.
Halbrook says some passengers evacuated but were quickly rescreened. He had no estimate on how many people left the terminal.
Woman sues Border Patrol agent accused of assault
McALLEN, Texas (AP) - A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a Border Patrol agent guarding her at a South Texas hospital has filed a federal lawsuit against the agent.
The woman had entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico in April 2013 and was pulled from a bus at the Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias.
The complaint filed Friday in Brownsville says that she injured her arm in custody. At a Corpus Christi hospital, where she was guarded by agents, she said she awoke to find Philip Westerman sexually assaulting her. He told police the woman intentionally aroused him and he then masturbated in a bathroom.
A Nueces (nyoo-AY'-sis) County grand jury on April 4 declined to indict Westerman. A lawyer who represented him did not immediately return a call for comment.
SUSPECTED HUMAN SMUGGLING-HOUSTON
3 sentenced for Texas human smuggling operation
HOUSTON (AP) - Three men have been sentenced to at least nine years in prison for operating a human-smuggling ring that held 115 people captive in a small Houston home.
Federal prosecutors announced the three were sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Houston after pleading guilty in April to conspiracy and firearms charges.
Officials have said the captives were held against their will until a ransom was paid to allow their illegal entry into the U.S.
Thirty-year-old Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 20-year-old Eugenio Sesmas-Borja and 26-year-old Jose Cesmas-Borja each to more than nine years.
They were among five men arrested March 19 when investigators discovered their stash house that day. The two others have also pleaded guilty to charges and are scheduled to be sentenced in September.
San Antonio-based Valero Energy 2Q profit up
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Earnings for Valero Energy Corporation rose 26 percent in its second quarter.
The San Antonio-based company on Wednesday said net income increased to $588 million, or $1.10 per share, from $466 million, or 85 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Earnings, adjusted to account for discontinued operations, were $1.22 per share. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.25 per share.
The oil refiner says revenue rose 2.6 percent to $34.91 billion from $34.03 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.
Houston firm offers space flights for pet remains
HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston company that already sends human remains out of this world will offer the same memorial space flights for deceased pets.
Celestis Incorporated on Wednesday announced that rockets carrying the cremated remains of dogs and cats will start this fall.
Spokeswoman Pazia (PAH'-zee-uh) Schonfeld says the cost will be about the same as for human remains sent into space and returned, starting at about $995.
Celestis Pets is working with a California company, Into the Sunset Pet Transition Center of San Diego, for pet cremations.
Celestis for years has offered a rocket service that takes partial human remains into space and brings them back, including ashes of "Star Trek" TV show creator Gene Roddenberry.
HOUSTON ASTRODOME'S FUTURE
State panel delays vote on Astrodome designation
HOUSTON (AP) - The Texas Historical Commission has postponed a vote on whether to designate the Houston Astrodome as a "state antiquities landmark," a status that would make it harder to tear down the iconic structure.
The future of the Astrodome is uncertain, although it's not in immediate danger of being torn down after voters last year declined to authorize $217 million in bonds to turn it into a multipurpose special events center.
The commission postponed the vote Wednesday during its meeting in the West Texas city of Alpine.
The designation would mean any proposals to alter or demolish the Astrodome would need commission approval. While the designation wouldn't bar demolition, preservation groups say it would provide extra protection against it.
The Astrodome has been closed to all events since 2009.
Cowboys' Lawrence out 2-3 months with broken foot
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) - Dallas Cowboys rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will miss at least two months after breaking his right foot in practice at training camp.
Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday that Lawrence would return to Dallas for surgery and miss eight to 12 weeks. The surgery is set for Thursday.
Lawrence was in a one-on-one drill with Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith on Tuesday when his foot got caught as Smith pushed him to the ground.
Dallas could place Lawrence on the short-term injured list. He would miss the first eight games.
The Cowboys moved to near the top of the second round to draft Lawrence out of Boise State after releasing franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware in a salary cap move in March.
Cowboys sign OT Tyron Smith to 8-year extension
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) - The Dallas Cowboys have signed Tyron Smith to an eight-year contract extension that locks up the Pro Bowl left tackle through the 2023 season.
The extension signed Wednesday is worth $98 million, pushing the total value of his deal to 10 years and $110 million. Smith gets a $10 million signing bonus and $40 million in guaranteed money.
The long contract means Smith will likely be the most important blocker for Tony Romo and whoever replaces the 34-year-old quarterback.
Smith was just 20 when Dallas drafted him ninth overall in 2011. He has started all 47 games in his career, missing one game with a sprained ankle in 2012. He played right tackle as a rookie before moving to the left side.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.