Sen. Ted Cruz delivered a blistering critique of Republican leadership Thursday, just hours before lawmakers held what he described as a “show vote” attempting to end Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding.
The Texas Republican summoned a handful of reporters, including The Daily Signal, to his Senate office to blast his own party for surrendering on the issue before even attempting to fight President Barack Obama and Democrats.
“The reason why Republicans always lose these fights is because Republicans assume Barack Obama is the Terminator—he will never stop, he will never give up—and Republicans surrender at the outset,” Cruz said.
A short time later, Republicans failed to overcome a Democrat-led filibuster of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s short-term government spending bill. The plan included a one-year prohibition on funding Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, is engulfed in a controversy stemming from a series of undercover videos about the harvesting and sale of body parts from aborted children.
Cruz has led the fight in the Senate against Planned Parenthood’s $500 million in taxpayer funding. He attributed its failure to Republican leadership’s decision to rule out a government shutdown.
“From a Democrat’s perspective,” Cruz said, “why would you let an appropriations bill pass if you can just wait until the end of the fiscal year, come right up to the edge of the cliff, and know Republican leadership will surrender? You don’t even have to guess on it. They promised you from the outset.”
This isn’t the first time Cruz finds himself amid a fight with leadership over a government shutdown. Two years ago, he rallied conservatives in their quest to defund Obamacare. The government closed for 16 days.
Cruz said Republicans failed to learn from that experience. The following year, he noted, many Republicans campaigned against Obamacare, and the GOP won a landslide election to take control of the Senate and expand its majority in the House.
“In 2013, when we were fighting against Obamacare, all the Washington graybeards went on television and said over and over again, ‘This is a catastrophic mistake. This will hurt Republicans.’ The Wall Street Journal opined that Cruz is the minority maker,” he told reporters.
“Not only did it not happen, it was exactly the opposite. It was one of the most overwhelming tidal-wave victories in history. And the No. 1 issue … was Obamacare,” Cruz said. “And it does not occur to Republican leadership there is any possible connection between energizing and mobilizing millions of Americans across this country and then winning a tidal-wave election on that exact issue in the very next election.”
Following the failure of Thursday’s plan to cut off Planned Parenthood funding, Cruz expects the Senate to abandon the abortion fight and move to a measure that Democrats will support. The same thing has played out before—in 2013 on Obamacare, last year with the so-called “CRomnibus,” and earlier this year with funding for Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Cruz called Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi the de facto leaders of Congress for their ability to control the agenda. Republican leadership, he said, should take a lesson from their playbook.
“Republicans need to act like Republicans. Leadership needs to lead. Together,” Cruz said, “we need to actually honor the commitments we made to the men and women who elected us.”
Cruz said this is a point that he stresses to his Senate colleagues. They wonder, he said, why Americans are dissatisfied with Congress—and Republicans in particular. A Fox News poll released this week, for example, asked Republican voters if they think the GOP-led Congress is doing all it can to block Obama’s agenda. Two-thirds (66 percent) said no. In the same poll, 51 percent of all voters said they felt betrayed by politicians from their own party.
“You want to understand why people are mind-explodingly furious with Washington?” Cruz said. “Republican leadership has handed all of their authority to Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.”