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April 21, 2014

Posts in "Ted Cruz"

March 24, 2014

Ukraine Aid Advances in Senate but Cruz, Barrasso Push for Votes on Amendments

A bill to provide aid to Ukraine cleared a procedural vote Monday evening, as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, signaled he would not object to expediting the bill if he gets a vote on an amendment striking the International Monetary Fund provision.

But Senate Democrats may not have an incentive to allow any amendments votes on the bill given that they likely have the 60 votes needed to clear any procedural hurdles. If both sides stand their ground, that would mean the Senate would likely next vote around midnight Tuesday.

“Its silly that we are running the [cloture] clock when we got 78 votes” to advance the bill, said a senior Senate Democratic aide. Full story

March 14, 2014

Heritage Drowns Cruz’s Perfect Score

Updated 7:22 p.m. | Sen. Ted Cruz no longer has a 100 percent rating on Heritage Action for America’s scorecard — he just may not know it yet.

While Heritage Action didn’t send out a press release like it normally does warning members and the press that it was key voting the flood insurance bill in the Senate, the group told CQ Roll Call it is including the vote on its official scorecard.

Heritage Action Communications Director Dan Holler told CQ Roll Call that the reason the key vote hadn’t showed up online, and the reason Cruz still has a 100 percent score, is that the “hamsters” hadn’t updated the site yet.

“We’ll get the scores up and running sooner than Healthcare.gov is running,” Holler said. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 3:48 p.m.
Ted Cruz

March 13, 2014

McCain Rails GOP on Ukraine Bill: ‘Don’t Call Yourself Reagan Republicans’ (Video)

Sen. John McCain hammered Republicans on the Senate floor Thursday for refusing to pass by unanimous consent a Senate Foreign Relation Committee bill which would provide economic aid while imposing sanctions on Russia.

“What has happened? Where are our priorities? You can call yourself Republicans, that’s fine, because that’s your voter registration. Don’t call yourself Reagan Republicans,” the Arizona Republican said.

Full story

March 7, 2014

McCain: Cruz’s Criticism of Bob Dole Crossed a Line

mccain 328 103013 445x293 McCain: Cruzs Criticism of Bob Dole Crossed a Line

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain said Friday he told Sen. Ted Cruz that the Texas Republican’s criticism of former Majority Leader Bob Dole in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference crossed a line.

In an interview on MSNBC, McCain said he confronted Cruz on the Senate floor about the freshman’s CPAC comments from Thursday, in which Cruz called out Dole, McCain and Mitt Romney — the party’s last three unsuccessful presidential nominees.

“I spoke to Ted Cruz — he and I have a cordial relationship — about this, and he can say what he wants about me, and he can say anything he wants to, I think, about Mitt,” the Arizona Republican said. “But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country? Bob Dole is such a man of honor and integrity and principle.”

Full story

March 4, 2014

Would McConnell Have a Governing Majority?

mcconnell020414 445x283 Would McConnell Have a Governing Majority?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mitch McConnell has long coveted the chance to be Senate majority leader, and while he could get the job come 2015, it may be more than he bargained for.

The Kentucky Republican and current minority leader could end up with the narrowest of majorities, with tea party firebrands such as Ted Cruz of Texas holding the power to sink, for example, a Republican budget blueprint if they aren’t satisfied.

It would be similar to the scenario faced by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, whose fractious conference has repeatedly revolted against and thwarted House leadership’s agenda.

On most issues in the Senate, of course, 60 votes are still needed and that means working with Democrats. McConnell has said repeatedly that he would run a more open Senate and would seek to restore some semblance of regular order. If he only has 51 Republicans, he’ll have to corral his conference and nine or 10 Democratic votes each week to advance legislation. And that need for bipartisanship is sure to put stresses on his party’s internal dynamics.

Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt, who has served in GOP leadership on both sides of the Rotunda, said the party would face a test of whether it’s ready to govern.

“There are some things like the budget that 51 Republicans in the Senate would have to vote for,” the Missouri Republican said. “That [and] how we use our committees would be two of the big tests of whether we are ready to be a governing party or not, and I think it’s something we ought to be thinking about just in case the majority does happen.”

Republicans could try to nullify the health care law through budget reconciliation rather than by threatening another government shutdown, for example. But drafting a budget that gets 51 votes would be the toughest challenge — especially if McConnell doesn’t have a vote to spare.

Blunt is one of many Republicans contrasting how McConnell would run the Senate with the current Democratic rule under Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

“No. 1, I hope we’ve learned the lessons of what happens when you don’t do the business the right way,” he said. “Second, the times that Republicans did lead the House and Senate, there was a budget and the appropriations bills generally came to the floor one at a time, and all came to the floor in some form to be debated and amended.”

That could help Republicans attract Democratic votes to advance legislation, although it won’t necessarily close the sharp split over tactics between McConnell and Cruz and others in the GOP base.

Operating in the minority, Republicans fractured over the tactic championed by Cruz of tying the funding of the government to defunding Obamacare. McConnell, notably, cut the deal to reopen the government.

“The tactical choices you make can actually help your chances or hurt your chances. Shutting down the government to defund Obamacare was a tactical mistake. We’ve overcome that,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Cruz later feuded with McConnell, as the Texas Republican forced his fellow GOP senators to walk the plank on the debt limit.

Cruz senior communications adviser and speechwriter Amanda Carpenter said in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call that she didn’t envision her boss changing course.

“He’s said before, ‘I don’t trust Republicans, I don’t trust Democrats.’ He’s still going try to do the things he set out to do. The goal of being in the Senate isn’t just to be the guy with the most people on your team. It’s to fix it,” Carpenter said.

Other senior Republicans acknowledged the balancing act McConnell would face. The challenge would be to balance the desires of the conservative base with trying to operate a functional chamber.

“We won’t have 60,” noted Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is in line to be Armed Services chairman in a GOP-led Senate. ”One of the things I know for a fact because I’ve got the commitment for Sen. McConnell is that we will take up bills in the regular order, and we will do as we did for years.”

The party also has to focus on what’s achievable, suggested Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota.

“You can’t set unrealistic expectations,” Thune said, adding that it’s something the party has been guilty of previously. “You have to define your reality, and the reality will be, even if we win the majority, is that we will be working with a Democratic president for the next couple of years who has a veto pen.”

In a recent interview with The New York Times, McConnell opened the door to reversing November’s “nuclear” rules change, though that would be a postelection debate.

“The Senate can be returned to the place of great debates, contentious debates, but where you can still get outcomes on things where you have at least 60 senators,” McConnell said.

“I definitely think that there is support for what I would consider to be regular order, which is moving to approps bills,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. “When we are to assume that [majority], we are going to have some different faces, different folks. So, you take every session as it comes.”

Thune conceded that keeping the conference unified would be a challenge and there could be more disputes like the one over defunding Obamacare. But he said that having the majority is a “very different scenario.”

“In the minority you are reacting all the time, and in most cases you are trying to put up a defense against what the other side is trying to do. But when you are calling the plays and setting the agenda, I think there is more of a, I hope, more of a buy-in to what the goals are. If we have gotten the buy-in and gotten everybody invested, taking ownership of what we want to achieve, then I think it gets easier to get people together, but we will see.”

February 27, 2014

Cruz Won’t Say Whether He’ll Vote for Cornyn in Tuesday’s Primary

cornyn 122 062513 445x270 Cruz Wont Say Whether Hell Vote for Cornyn in Tuesdays Primary

Does Cornyn have Cruz’s vote? Texas’ junior senator won’t say. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz declined to say whether he would vote for his fellow Texan, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, in next week’s Republican primary, despite Cruz’s avowed affection for the state’s senior senator.

“I like John Cornyn,” Cruz said Thursday in a Politico Playbook breakfast interview. “He and I have worked together very closely. We’ve agreed on the vast majority of things, there are some areas on which we disagree.”

Cruz said his decision not to disclose his choice in Tuesday’s GOP Senate primary — in which Rep. Steve Stockman is one of several challengers to Cornyn — stems from him not wanting to meddle in the primaries of sitting Republicans. But he said his decision is not iron clad and left open the possibility that he may still get involved in primaries this year.

“What I have said is that I am likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries,” Cruz said. “I haven’t put that in concrete.”

Asked why he hedged, Cruz said, “Because things can change in politics.” Full story

February 26, 2014

Amanda Carpenter Is Ted Cruz’s Twitter Torrent

carpenter 133 022014 445x296 Amanda Carpenter Is Ted Cruzs Twitter Torrent

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just as there was a glimmer of hope late last month that House Republican leaders would try to pass an immigration overhaul this year, Sen. Ted Cruz and his staff mobilized to extinguish it. It was a one-two punch that showcased the stature of one of the Texas Republican’s top aides.

While Cruz countered House leaders’ rollout of their immigration principles on conservative outlets like Breitbart News, Amanda Carpenter, who helps formulate and amplify Cruz’s message as his senior communications adviser and speechwriter, slung slices of red meat on Twitter.

“Maybe after offering up amnesty for Obama, the Establishment GOP will start working on a global warming cap-and-tax bill for Obama. #WhyNot,” Carpenter tweeted. She continued in rapid fire, tweeting: “Want to know why conservatives aren’t, supposedly, pushing happy ideas? bc we keep having to kill terrible ones the establishment pushes!” and “Hey, remember when they promised to keep the focus on Obamacare. Dontcha kinda think amnesty distracts from that?”

Soon after, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, began to express doubt that immigration reform could be done this year.

Carpenter’s acerbic wit has helped grow her Twitter presence to reach more than 50,000 people — far more followers than most congressional staffers and surpassing many of Cruz’s fellow senators.

Her unique position in the Twitterverse has provided another pipeline from Cruz to the conservative grass roots. And Carpenter doesn’t hold back — targeting the establishment and GOP leaders again and again, as well as President Barack Obama.

Full story

February 14, 2014

Cruz Calls Out GOP Leaders as Dishonest on Debt Issue

cruz 085 021014 445x275 Cruz Calls Out GOP Leaders as Dishonest on Debt Issue

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ted Cruz, R-Texas, ripped his fellow GOP senators on conservative talk radio, taking a bit of a victory lap for forcing a politically tough vote to lift the debt ceiling and avoid a default.

“Why is Congress at a 13 percent approval rating?” Cruz asked on the “Mark Levin Show” Thursday. “Because people don’t like to be lied to.”

His comments came after a dramatic vote in the Senate Wednesday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was forced to scramble to find at least five Republican votes to cut off debate on the debt ceiling bill cleared by the House Tuesday. (See our post on the six senators who appear to have changed their votes.)

Cruz mocked Republicans for allowing the bill to advance and suggested they are being dishonest.

“I recently had my staff print out a list of three pages of Republican senators — I might note all the people that are running around the press saying nasty things about me — saying ‘We will stand on the debt ceiling and fight for it.’ And then a few months later, it’s like they think the American people are just a bunch of rubes, that we don’t remember what they say.”

Cruz added, “Every one of those senators who’s angry when they go back home, they tell every one of their constituents to stop it, but they don’t actually want to do what they are saying.”

Full story

February 12, 2014

GOP Split Laid Bare on Debt Limit Vote

The split between establishment Republicans and their tea party brethren over debt limit strategy boiled over on the Senate floor Wednesday, when GOP leaders scrambled to put down a filibuster threat by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The behind-the-scenes battle over the party’s debt limit strategy between Cruz and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky ended with McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas walking to the well of the Senate to vote to end Cruz’s filibuster attempt — a vote no Republican was eager to cast.

As he did in last year’s shutdown showdown, Cruz had been pushing his fellow Republicans in both chambers to dig in on the debt limit and extract concessions from President Barack Obama.

But McConnell privately counseled his fellow senators that such a path — which could have led to another shutdown and a first-ever default — was folly. At the heart of the dispute is what will play best in the midterm elections as the GOP attempts to regain control of the Senate.

“The challenge is we all knew what was going to happen after the House did what they did, and you know, to me, the most important thing that can happen this year is … for Republicans to win the majority in November,” Cornyn told CQ Roll Call after the vote. “I don’t want to do anything that would interfere with that.”

Both McConnell and Cornyn face primary challenges in the coming months.

Cruz and McConnell had sparred at the GOP’s Tuesday policy lunch, which some attendees described as heated.

“The leader thought we should go ahead and not have a government shutdown and I agree with him on that,” said Sen. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois. “A government shutdown is a political mistake for Republicans.”

Cruz, for his part, ripped what he considered to be a capitulation.

“Today’s vote is yet another example that establishment politicians from both parties are simply not listening to the American people,” he said. “Let’s be clear about the motive behind this vote — there are too many members of Congress who think they can fool people and they will forget about it the next week. But sometimes, come November, the people remember.”

Full story

Senate Votes to Send Debt Limit to Obama With Help From Republican Leaders (Updated)

Updated 4:14 p.m. | The Senate voted to send a one-year debt limit suspension to President Barack Obama’s desk Wednesday, after a high-drama cliffhanger that ended when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, voted “aye” to end a filibuster.

The Senate voted 67-31 to end a filibuster on the legislation threatened by tea party firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a vote that took nearly an hour to complete as senators wrestled with their decision. The Senate then voted 55-43 to pass the bill with a simple majority threshold.

McConnell and Cornyn voted to cut off debate when the measure appeared stuck just short of the 60 votes needed.

A dozen Republicans voted with Democrats in all, most in a clump after McConnell and Cornyn led the way: John Barrasso of Wyoming, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Thune of South Dakota.

Cruz forced the 60-vote threshold, putting his fellow Republicans on the hot seat as they had to choose between a filibuster — potentially leading to the nation’s first ever default and a government shutdown — and putting the issue behind them ahead of the midterm elections.

Cruz had argued Republicans should stick together to extract spending cuts from Democrats and President Barack Obama, but McConnell privately had counseled against another shutdown showdown.

Kirk said his party was sharply divided over strategy behind the scenes, including a dispute between McConnell and Cruz. He told reporters why he planned to vote to advance the debt limit bill: ”I just want the orderly administration of the U.S. debt,” he said.

Cruz and outside tea party groups have ripped the party’s leadership in both chambers for caving to President Barack Obama’s demands for a clean debt limit hike. But the House voted narrowly to pass the debt limit Tuesday after Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans were unable to unite behind any alternative.

The difficulty of the vote may suggest that debt limit brinkmanship may just be on hiatus, even if it’s over for this Congress.

Once signed by the president, the debt limit will be suspended until March 2015, at which point it will be raised to whatever level of debt has been incurred. That number will likely be at least $500 billion higher given the expected size of the federal deficit.

Humberto Sanchez and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

January 29, 2014

Cruz: Iran Might Nuke New York or Los Angeles

cruz092413 445x299 Cruz: Iran Might Nuke New York or Los Angeles

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz said after the State of the Union address that President Barack Obama’s Iran policy could lead to a nuclear weapon being detonated over a major U.S. city.

“I thought that was one of the most dangerous things in the entire speech,” Cruz said of Obama’s commitment to veto new Iran sanctions as talks continue with the international community. “What I fear is that we’re making the mistakes of the past — the same mistakes the Clinton administration made with North Korea. With North Korea, we relaxed the sanctions in exchange for amorphous promises, and the billions that North Korea received in relaxed sanctions, they used to develop nuclear weapons.

“The risk is unacceptable. When you have the leaders of a nation who have said, among other things, they intend to drive Israel into the sea and wipe them off the face of the map — if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the risk is unacceptable that that weapon will be detonated over the skies of Tel Aviv or New York or Los Angeles,” Cruz said. “The results could be hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost.”

That kind of rhetoric will get attention, with Cruz explaining his case about how the North Korean regime controlling nuclear weapons is less of a threat than Iran.

“What makes this much, much more dangerous than North Korea is, at the end of the day, Kim Jong Un wants to stay in power more than anything else, and for someone that wants to stay in power, deterrence is possible,” Cruz argued, saying the same may not be true of the Iranian leadership.

Cruz did find some areas of agreements with the president; he agreed with Obama on “streamlining red tape and reducing regulations.” But he did go on to mention that the president had “used that rhetoric before.” Cruz also mentioned a program Obama discussed: myRA, which, the president said, was “a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings.”

Obama described the program as a new savings bond that would encourage Americans to build a nest egg.

“I am a passionate supporter of anything that enables people to save on their own, to have assets that they own, that they control, that they can bequest to their kids,” Cruz said. “And so, depending on the details, that could be something that he could find a lot of support.”

Cruz was holding court with a collection of reporters in Statuary Hall long after most of his Senate colleagues had departed. Cruz also spoke with a large number of national and regional TV crews.

Asked what one word he would use to describe the speech, Cruz said: “disappointing.” Not surprisingly, he criticized the way the president spoke about health care and economic policy.

“Throughout the entire of the hour-plus-long speech there was no acknowledgment that the Obama economic policies are not working, that they have produced the lowest labor force participation since 1978, that millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance,” Cruz said.

January 22, 2014

Cruz Wants Special Prosecutor to Investigate IRS

Ted Cruz 10 011514 445x294 Cruz Wants Special Prosecutor to Investigate IRS

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz wants a special prosecutor to investigate misconduct at the IRS.

The Texas Republican follows up on the first in a series of five questions that Cruz would like to see President Barack Obama address in next week’s State of the Union address. Each of the questions hit on politically charged subject matter, ranging from the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, to claims made by the president about the health care overhaul.

Cruz’s IRS-related request comes in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. He’s looking for a special prosecutor to consider any potential criminal cases against IRS officials over the agency’s controversial actions against tea party and conservative organizations.

“To date, no one has been indicted. And it has been reported that the FBI plans not to file any criminal charges. This is a sad state of affairs. The widespread perception of partisan bias, of manifest conflict of interest, besmirches the reputation of the Department of Justice. And it undermines confidence in rule of law,” Cruz wrote. ”I ask you personally to demonstrate the independence that so many of your predecessors have demonstrated, and act to preserve the integrity of the Department of Justice and immediately appoint a special prosecutor, with meaningful independence, to investigate the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative groups.”

The full letter is posted here.

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:33 p.m.
Ted Cruz

January 16, 2014

Omnibus Sails Through the Senate

reid mikulski 023 010714 445x310 Omnibus Sails Through the Senate

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The allure of recess won out Thursday as senators sped up the timeline and cleared a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Passage completes the process on Capitol Hill of keeping the government funded through the end of the fiscal year at the end of September. Appropriators completed a rather herculean lift of getting all 12 regular appropriation bills included in the package, and then guided the bill through the House and Senate less than 72 hours after revealing it to the public.

Senators voted 72-26 to limit debate on the measure before passing it by the same vote count. Full story

January 13, 2014

Ted Cruz Hires Former RSC Staffer Paul Teller

In the latest move showing he doesn’t particularly care what top House Republicans think, Sen. Ted Cruz has hired a new deputy chief of staff: Paul Teller.

Teller was the Republican Study Committee executive director who was fired in December for leaking member-level conversations on the budget deal to outside conservative groups.

“Paul’s many years of experience working in Congress and his tireless work to advance conservative principles make him a tremendous addition to our team,” Cruz said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to keep making Texans’ voices heard in Washington and to promote a positive policy agenda that will restore economic growth, rein in government overreach, and protect Americans’ personal liberties.” Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 12:11 p.m.
Ted Cruz

October 16, 2013

Will Cruz’s Clout Fade After Strategy Failed?

gop sens005 101613 330x213 Will Cruzs Clout Fade After Strategy Failed?

Cruz speaks to reporters Wednesday as Senate leaders announced a deal to reopen the government. (Tom William/CQ Roll Call)

Talking to a small group of reporters Wednesday, Sen. John McCain struggled to be heard over the booming voice of Sen. Ted Cruz, who yards away had assumed the stakeout position usually reserved for leaders in the Capitol’s Ohio Clock Corridor.

Cruz was railing on Senate Republican leadership, on the president’s health care law and on the “establishment,” in front of a swarm of reporters. Cruz’s words rang like a triumphant victory speech, even though his strategy to link defunding of the Affordable Care Act to funding the government had failed. In the shadows of cameras trained on the Texas Republican, McCain, a 26-year Senate veteran, was peeved and a touch incredulous as to how this debacle played out for his party. Full story

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