Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling the shots in the Republican Party.
That’s what one Senate Democratic aide said is clear from House Republicans’ latest strategy on the House’s continuing resolution — one that is likely to force a government shutdown on Tuesday.
“Draft Cruz” for Speaker, the Senate aide said in jest.
After a week that included a 21-plus-hour talk-a-thon against the Affordable Care Act and pleas to House Republicans to “stand firm” against a Senate bill, the actual House Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), did just that.
House Republicans plan to vote on amendments Saturday that would add a one-year delay of Obamacare and a permanent repeal of the medical-device tax to the bill that keeps the government funded past Sept. 30.
Egged on by Sens. Cruz and Mike Lee (R-Utah), among others, Republicans continued to target Obamacare rather than look to pass the so-called “clean” version of the continuing resolution passed by the Senate on Friday.
“He’s played a huge role. He’s been the rallying force,” Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) told reporters of Cruz.
Cruz didn’t just call on the House to “stand firm,” however. According to National Review’s Robert Costa, he actively played a role in telling House conservatives to oppose Boehner’s strategy of moving past the continuing resolution and focusing on a fight over the debt ceiling.
For any senator to work and shape House strategy — let alone a freshman senator — is unprecedented. But he likely realised, despite public statements, that his gambit was doomed in the Senate, and he moved on to where he could have more leverage.
As Republicans have repeatedly grumbled throughout this fight, Cruz’s strategy still appears to lack an end game. A Democratic Senate aide repeated that the Senate will not pass a continuing resolution that touches Obamacare, and the Senate is still not planning to reconvene until Monday at 2 p.m. — 10 hours before a shutdown.
But Cruz has inspired a loud faction of Republicans, especially in the House. And he has resonated with voters. A new survey from Public Policy Polling found that, just nine months into his term as senator, he is already the top choice of Republican primary voters to be the party’s presidential nominee.
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