The old Ted Cruz is back

Andrea Drusch, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a past and perhaps future presidential contender, spent the past year proving he can work well with Republican colleagues he's butted heads with in the past.

Now less than a month out from Texas's primary, where Cruz faces little serious opposition, that cooperation appears to be dissipating as he pushes his party toward a tough conservative agenda in Washington.

Cruz boasted Wednesday to a Texas audience that he rallied conservatives in the Senate to repeal Obamacare's individual mandate in their tax bill, against the will of party leaders, who feared it could sink tax reform, their bigger policy priority. He's also pushing his party to revisit efforts to repeal Obamacare this year, even though GOP leaders have moved on to other projects they believe will garner Democratic support in a chamber that has been paralyzed by partisanship.

Speaking to members of the Texas Water Conservation Association in Washington, Cruz, who famously led a 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare, channeled his old self.

He called on GOP colleagues to use every option they have over the next 10 months, including getting rid of the filibuster, to deliver on campaign promises they made in 2016.

"We're at a time of enormous opportunity, I think, and enormous transition. We've got a Republican president, Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and an opportunity to do an awful lot," said Cruz.

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"When we started the year in 2017 in my mind there were four big priorities ... If we failed to deliver on any of those four, it would be a heartbreaking opportunity," said Cruz.

He said Republicans had promised voters tax reform, regulatory reform, Obamacare repeal and more conservative judges.

The party has already notched some victories on those goals, with a major tax bill in December, a swath of Obama era environmental regulations repealed under the Congressional Review Act early in 2017 and Senate confirmations for a number of key judicial appointees.

Faced with a narrow majority in the Senate, where Republicans hold 51 seats but need 60 to advance major legislation, party leaders have now turned their focus to areas where they can work with Democrats. That became notably apparent Wednesday as Republican and Democratic leaders agreed on a two-year budget deal.


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