In the fall, Congress will decide the details of next year's federal budget. Ted Cruz is leading a charge right now that is no more than a wild threat: to shut down the government if Congress doesn't repeal Obamacare. That would require the Democratic-led Senate to vote the funds down, and then President Obama to sign a budget that defunds his own landmark bill.
Cruz is currently joined by twelve other Republican senators, including our own John Cornyn, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Florida's Marco Rubio. They sent Harry Reid a letter last week vowing not to vote for the upcoming government funding bill unless it defunds Obamacare. A full 66 House Republicans, more than a quarter of the conference, sent a similar letter to Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Why is Ted Cruz doing this? Read more below the jump.
On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down an overly burdensome Arizona voter registration law included in the state's controversial "give me your papers" legislation. Per U.S. News, the Supreme Court "determined that the federal registration form, which requires applicants to affirm they are U.S. citizens upon penalty of perjury, preempts the state provision. Groups that filed a lawsuit against the Arizona law said it was too great a burden and violated the 1993 National Voting Rights Act." Even Justice Antonin Scalia joined the majority in a 7-2 decision.
But Ted Cruz loves a voting burden and won't stand for this ruling.
"I'll file amendment to immigration bill that permits states to require ID before registering voters and close this hole in fed statutory law," Cruz tweeted soon after the ruling. Cruz then did exactly that, submitting an amendment two hours later.
Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday that she will retire from Congress at the end of her term. She claimed unconvincingly that her decision does not come from the threat of Democrat Jim Graves taking her seat next year, nor from the ethics inquiries into her presidential campaign.
"Unfortunately today I am even more concerned about our country's future than I've ever been in the past," she said in a long video posted online.
Personally, I'm a little less concerned about our country's future now that Bachmann will be out of Congress. But that doesn't mean there aren't seriously problematic crazies left there - and guess what? All the candidates to replace Bachmann as the craziest person in Congress are from Texas.
The answer is no. But if the Canada-born Cruz runs for president, as he appears likely to do, he'll be a big ol' hypocrite.
You see, Ted Cruz is a constitutional originalist - a person who thinks the Constitution was set in stone in 1787 and none of it is open to interpretation. On the question of eligibility to be president, the Constitution reads: "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."
Clearly, there are many ways to interpret "natural born". Temple University law professor and expert on nationality law recently explained: "It's a question of how our understandings have evolved over time...[recent examples] all pretty clearly establish that the American people are on board with somebody who was born outside of the United States, but who had citizenship at birth." Recent examples of popular interpretation, that is.
But Ted Cruz isn't a fan of constitutional interpretation.
Hard to believe that today marks the 100th day of SenatorTed Cruz. Maybe it feels longer than that because Ted Cruz has done such an astonishing amount of damage in his short time in the Senate.
To mark the grim occasion, Democratic State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer's OneTexas PAC released the excellent video below showing what Cruz has done in the past hundred days. Unfortunately and factually, it's all bad.
A full 54 percent of Ted Cruz's statements have been rated "false" or "pants on fire" by PolitiFact. Another 20 percent are only "half true." That's 74 percent of Cruz's statements failing the truth test.
We're used to politicians lying to us, of course. But the frequency of Cruz's lies is actually staggering. Compare Cruz's 74 percent lying rate with Rick Perry's 48 percent and John Cornyn's 56 percent. Cruz is in rarified company with Michele Bachmann as one of this country's biggest political liars. Whenever Ted Cruz opens his mouth, there's a 3/4 chance he's lying.
Ted Cruz, along with a handful of other Republican senators including Rand Paul, has vowed to filibuster any gun control measures to prevent them from getting a vote in the Senate.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to get a vote on universal background checks, which have support from 88 percent of Americans.
On Monday, Cruz rejected a Senate resolution commemorating International Women's Day because it noted that women in developing countries "are disproportionately affected by changes in climate because of their need to secure water, food and fuel for their livelihood."
A Cruz spokesman said: "A provision expressing the Senate's views on such a controversial topic as 'climate change' has no place in a supposedly noncontroversial resolution requiring consent of all 100 U.S. senators."
Climate change is a scientific fact and the greatest threat to humanity. The only people that consider it "controversial" in large numbers are Republicans.
Less than two weeks ago, Cruz blocked a resolution commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week because he didn't like the inclusion of the federally funded Multiple Sclerosis Coalition's purpose.
Also on Monday, alongside Sen. Cornyn, Lt. Gov Dewhurst and Gov. Perry at the Capitol, Cruz reiterated his opposition to expanding Medicaid for hundreds of thousands more Texans through the Affordable Care Act. Cruz said he was proud of Texas for not "giving in" to the Medicaid expansion as other Republican states have embraced it.
We learned this week Ted Cruz will speak at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual Silver Elephant Dinner on May 3rd. South Carolina is an early and important Republican primary state, and that connection has not been lost on the mainstream media.
The Senate (and House) pass hundreds of resolutions each year commemorating utterly positive things like "World Plumbing Day". Last week, Cruzobjectedto commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week because he doesn't like a provision about the purpose of the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, according to a Hill staffer. These commemorations have no force of law. Cruz is so determined to stick out that he'll stoop so low as to take a principled stance against something so clearly positive and non-impactful. And he barely even bothered to give a reason:
"The Senator, like many of his colleagues, will not grant consent to call up and pass a resolution or bill at the last minute without time for review," spokesman Sean Rushton said in a statement. Rushton went on to claim that Cruz doesn't oppose the substance of the resolution. So, if he had time to read it, what was the problem exactly with the MS Coalition language? Not a single other senator had a problem with this innocuous resolution in a package of innocuous resolutions. Cruz doesn't stick out of the pack like a noble legislator, or even a sore thumb; he's a rotten thumb doing nothing but harm in Congress.
We can't expect a week to go by more of this from Cruz's office. Cruz will - and does - brag that he gets under the skin of progressives, and that's how you can tell he's doing his job well. What he doesn't realize is that almost no one in the country approves of his awful legislating, and imitating Michele Bachmann is not a winning political strategy.
First, a stark reality check: a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll out this week shows Cruz with 37% approval, 28% disapproval, and 16% without an opinion of him here in Texas. "He's still popular among the Republican base. He has high favorables among Republicans," pollster Jim Henson said. "And the people that like him are still willing to vote for him."
Those numbers aren't as disastrous as Ted Cruz's rollout in Washington has been. But they're definitely not good numbers for Cruz. Only 37% of voters approve of Ted Cruz, a candidate who was elected with 56.46% of the vote in November. These numbers indicate dipping support for this crazy, do-nothing-except-obstruct-and-embarrass senator, but they also show something else. If only 37% of voters approve of Cruz, and he was elected so recently with 56% of the vote...think of how different Texas elections would be if Texas Democrats turned out their voters. Next time around, they'll be in a much better position to do that, with Battleground Texas now building the winning coalition in our state.
The crazier Cruz acts, the less compelling his case for re-election in 2018 becomes. But that's five years away. We here in 2013 have come to accept that the next five years will be a constant slew of news about Ted Cruz's craziness. The flip side of that story is how much the "movement" conservatives who dictate the direction of the Republican Party love him.
Allow me to quote myself. While wrapping up Texas' 2012 Senate race a week after the election, I wrote:
I believe very strongly that Ted Cruz is about to get a national reputation for being a divisive, do-nothing, corporatist senator. Except Cruz will be more grating than most, since he's so damn smarmy. He's a bad candidate for a 2018 Texas much more friendly to Democrats.
Since the day of his inauguration, Ted Cruz has been gaining a foul national reputation for each of those qualities. He has voted against just about everything the Senate has voted for, leading him to his abysmal 1-13 voting record (including votes against confirmed John Kerry for Secretary of State and against the Violence Against Women Act). Cruz is fighting against the bipartisan immigration deal, brought a pistol grip to the floor of the Senate to make a ridiculous argument against gun control, and claimed that the gun show loophole doesn't exist.
News outlets around the country are runningstories about Cruz's obstinance. And that story is just getting revved up. On Tuesday of this week, Cruz took his reputation to its lowest point yet, drawing the criticism of his own party.