Over 50 years after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the issue of race is back in the political headlines, after comments from Attorney General Eric Holder and events marking the anniversary of the law’s passage renewed the dialogue over race relations in the 21st century.
Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that "not all" of his GOP colleagues are racist but "the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism."
Jeb Bush said the debate over immigration reform needs to move past derisive rhetoric describing illegal immigrants.
The former Florida governor said in an interview Sunday in College Station, Texas, that people who come to the United States illegally are often looking for opportunities to provide for their families that are not available in their home countries.
"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family," Bush told Fox News host Shannon Bream at town hall event at the George Bush Presidential Library Center.
"I honestly think that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families," he said.
"I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place."
Bush acknowledged that his comments would be recorded. "So be it," he said before discussing immigration reform, an area where he splits from many in the Republican Party in lobbying for a comprehensive overhaul.
Watch this story and more from today's "Inside Politics" with John King.
Ted Cruz sharpened his critique against the Republican establishment in Washington, taking leaders in his party to task for allowing GOP senators to cast a “show vote” on the debt ceiling and misleading constituents.
In an exclusive network interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash in Texas, the first-term Republican senator from Texas blamed Republicans for caving in to President Barack Obama and Democrats on raising the debt ceiling.
"Republican leadership said, we want this to pass, but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes, then we can all cast a vote no and we can go home to our constituents and say we opposed it," he said. "And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.”
Cruz added: "In my view, we need to be honest with our constituents. And last week, what it was all about was truth and transparency. I think all 45 Republicans should have stood together and said, of course not.’"
Cruz drew fire from fellow Republicans after he attempted to block the Senate from raising the debt ceiling earlier this month, forcing his GOP colleagues to choose between conservative purity and political pragmatism. The Senate voted 67-31 to break Cruz's filibuster as a dozen Republicans crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats. The final vote to approve a year-long debt-ceiling extension went along party lines.
Cruz insisted his attempt to block the bill was not aimed at politically damaging his fellow Republicans, but rather it was an effort to make the lawmakers transparent to their constituents.
"I mean the funny thing is, what I told the voters of Texas, I guarantee you, all 45 of those Republican senators tell the voters of their states the same thing, which is they're going to lead the fight to stop the spending, to stop the debt," he said.