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February 11, 2016

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.

But senators, and GOP leadership for that matter, might be wondering why they weren’t told in advance that the flood insurance bill would be key voted.

“It sounds like Heritage Action got caught trying to cover for some senators,” a senior GOP aide told CQ Roll Call on Friday. “Their conservative principles seem pretty flexible.”

The aide added: “These games are one reason why Heritage’s credibility is in crisis on the Hill.”

Holler noted that Heritage has always reserved the right to “retroactively” key vote, though he said that wasn’t the case in this instance.

Part of the problem may be that the Senate vote to clear the House-passed flood insurance bill came up rather abruptly Thursday after a deal was worked out with several senators that avoided a protracted amendment process.

“I only knew 30 minutes before the final vote,” supporter Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., said. “There were several individuals that wanted votes on their ideas or their bills or their amendments.”

Landrieu said one particular issue arose with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, but his legislation was considered with just a voice vote, with her side prevailing on the underlying compromise bill 72-22. (Lee is now the only senator with a 100 percent Heritage score.)

“There were people here that thought, you know, soundness of the program was more important than affordability, and we beat them badly,” Landrieu said. “It’s done. We won. They lost.”

When CQ Roll Call initially contacted Heritage Action about the group seeming to have key voted the bill in the House but not in the Senate, Heritage told us that something didn’t look right and that they wanted to figure out what it was.

Shortly after, Holler called us back to confirm that the vote is on the scorecard — or at least it will be.

Holler said he couldn’t remember an instance when Heritage had not notified members officially that they were key voting a piece of legislation, but he said, “I’m sure we have at times.”

Holler also said he could “guarantee you folks in the Senate knew where we were on it.”

Indeed, Heritage Action did make their position well known, which is why it seemed all the more puzzling they weren’t including it on their scorecard. Heritage Action insists this is just a technology issue, and that there was nothing nefarious going on with them not notifying senators they were key voting the bill.

Update: Cruz also will likely have a blemish on his Club for Growth score. Spokesman Barney Keller said they are in the same boat as Heritage and will likely score the vote retroactively, noting that they key voted against the legislation in the House. Keller said the club has frequently retroactively key voted legislation.

Cruz and Lee were the only two senators with a perfect Club score in 2013.

Niels Lesniewski and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

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