Today, speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) ripped into the leadership of outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner. “Yesterday, John Boehner was Speaker of the House,” Cruz said. “Ya’ll come to town and somehow that changes.” Cruz added that the crowd should come to DC more often.
But Boehner’s exit also sets up a major choice for Cruz – and a potential moment of strength. Boehner reportedly intends to ram through a budget deal with the help of Democrats in order to forestall a potential government shutdown over funding of Planned Parenthood.
Already, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has vowed not to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, put up a show vote on Planned Parenthood, which went down to inevitable defeat, and then advanced a clean continuing resolution funding the government and Planned Parenthood.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) explained McConnell’s strategy: “Rather than resting all our hopes on a strategy that will achieve no result and will be manipulated by Democrats and the media, I believe we should fund the government, fully investigate Planned Parenthood, and focus our efforts on electing pro-life leaders.”
This, of course, is insufficient. Republican strategy seems to revolve around the assumption that government shutdowns invariably hurt Republicans (false,) and that Republicans in Congress are therefore fated to surrender until they win the executive branch. Meanwhile, taxpayer dollars continue to flow to an organization that murders hundreds of thousands of unborn children every year.
With Boehner’s resignation assured, and his attendant determination to ram through Obama agenda items and prevent a shutdown, Cruz becomes the only Republican in a position to hold up funding for Planned Parenthood. It’s easy for Donald Trump to endorse a shutdown over Planned Parenthood; he’s in no position to do it. It’s just as easy for Carly Fiorina to endorse a shutdown. But only Cruz in the Senate has the ability to implement that strategy.
He’s done it before. When Cruz leveraged the bully pulpit to force Speaker of the House John Boehner to defund Obamacare in 2013, the Republican establishment preached doom and gloom. Republicans won a landslide victory in 2014.
And Cruz would benefit from that same stand against Planned Parenthood in his presidential race. If Cruz fails to utilize the same tactics now – if he doesn’t take to the floor of the Senate to the best of his ability and use public pressure to strip funding from Planned Parenthood – he risks looking weaker than Trump and Fiorina. Furthermore, Trump and Fiorina and Mike Huckabee and myriad other Republican candidates would be assets to Cruz in this fight, since they all endorse any attempt to stop Planned Parenthood funding.
More importantly, Cruz has been talking openly about a government shutdown for weeks; in August, he told pastors to tell their flocks to get active. “We have a moment where we can stand together and act, and all we need is for our elected leaders to actually do what they said they would do,” Cruz said then. “They campaigned promising to defend the right to life. Now is the moment where we distinguish word from action.”
Cruz now represents the only hope of stopping taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. Even that hope is slim. He doesn’t have the votes in the Senate to withstand a motion for cloture on a clean continuing resolution. And Boehner’s parting gift to Planned Parenthood seems preordained. But all that means is that pro-life Americans are looking for a champion to stand up in the face of overwhelming odds on behalf of the unborn.
Cruz can at least do that much, if nobody else will.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.