Just a week ago, House Speaker John Boehner united House Republicans behind an effort to defund Obamacare in the Continuing Resolution (CR). The House passed a plan that conservative Reps. Tom Graves (R-GA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) helped craft. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) were architects of the overarching plan and fought the defunding battle in the Senate. Senate GOP leadership was, unfortunately, unable to unify its caucus as Boehner unified the House GOP.
Even so, the Huffington Post last week and over the weekend spread inaccurate information about the nature of Cruz and Lee’s defunding efforts. The liberal site treated Cruz’s acknowledgement that the Senate was unlikely to defund ObamaCare as a “gotcha” moment that undermined his efforts. Leaving that silliness aside, after the site’s inaccurate smears, Senate Republicans failed to unite behind the effort.
Now that the battle is headed back over to the House, and those same leaders–Graves, Jordan and other House members have crafted a plan to delay Obamacare for a year, the Huffington Post is trying to argue it is unseemly for Cruz to help conservatives in the House allegedly “oppose” Speaker Boehner. In a headline flouted this time by Huffington Post writers Jennifer Bendery and Ryan Grim, the liberal website argues that “Ted Cruz tells House conservatives to oppose John Boehner.”
“Ted Cruz is not content to drive Senate strategy on the budget and debt ceiling showdown,” Bendery and Grim write, before saying Cruz “is working with House Republicans to undermine Speaker John Boehner’s various approaches to dealing with Senate Democrats and the White House.”
Bendery and Grim cite a National Review article where Bob Costa reports that, on Thursday, Cruz advised House conservatives to oppose a plan that Boehner offered to shift focus onto the debt ceiling. They did, and as Costa notes, it soon “fizzled.”
But the liberal writers at the Huffington Post took Costa’s story to a surreal place, and actually argued that Cruz is running the House of Representatives and may want to be the Speaker. In the clouded minds of Bendery and Grim, an elected official in one chamber ought not to have an opinion about what happens in the other chamber.
“Cruz told reporters in response to the story Friday that he has had ‘numerous conversations with numerous members’ in the House, but he wouldn’t go into specifics,” Bendery and Grim wrote. “He ignored questions about whether he’s been pressing House Republicans to go around their leadership and engage in a protracted fight over the government funding bill, even suggesting that there’s no point in guessing what the House will do next.”
Later in their piece, Bendery and Grim went even further in their criticism. “Cross-chamber alliances tend to be rare on Capitol Hill, especially ones aimed at undermining the leadership of the coalition’s own party,” they wrote. “But Cruz and Lee’s work with House Republicans is more evidence of the open civil war underway within the GOP. Does Cruz have an interest in running the House? The lower chamber’s rules do not, in fact, require that the speaker be a sitting member of the lower chamber.”
Is it possible Cruz could become Speaker of the House one day? Sure. The House rules allow for it. Anything is possible. The liberal writers at the Huffington Post are intentionally trying to undermine conservatives and House Republicans by floating such a convoluted fantasy. “Cross-chamber alliances” are fairly common in Congress, and the left and political establishment uses them all the time, to advance a wide-range of legislation. There is nothing unusual in this, as any veteran of debates over a highway or farm bill can attest.
As conservatives get more organized outside the scope of the establishment, it is clear leadership in Washington fears these idealogical coalitions and is trying to make them appear nefarious when in fact they are not. Cruz is doing what he can to implement his agenda, which is more than completely normal: it is expected members of Congress use their influence to fight for their constituents.