Politics & Policy

Ted Cruz Blasts McConnell: ‘Harry Reid Is the De Facto Leader of the Senate’

(Erich Schlegel/Getty)

Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) offered a sustained denunciation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership since the 2014 midterms today, saying that the electoral victories had not produced any meaningful policy successes over the last year.

Cruz made the comments while faulting McConnell for scheduling show votes, such as a Thursday vote to strip money for Planned Parenthood from a continuing resolution to fund the government. Before the vote, GOP leaders promised to offer a so-called “clean” CR — one with the Planned Parenthood funding intact — after the Democrats filibustered the first bill. 

“Today, Harry Reid is the de facto leader of the Senate,” Cruz told reporters during a briefing in his office Thursday. “Nancy Pelosi is the de facto leader of the House. Why? Because Republican leadership will advance nothing unless Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi agree with it. They have veto power.”

Just after Cruz spoke, the bill defunding Planned Parenthood fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, as expected. The bill failed on a 47-52 vote, with eight Republicans breaking ranks to vote against ending debate.

The conservative presidential hopeful from Texas suggested that the Planned Parenthood fight could be won if McConnell united Senate Republicans in focusing the debate on the undercover videos. “Play the videos over and over and over again,” he said. “They describe one little boy that was born, was nearly two pounds, his heart was beating, and a technician was instructed — while his heart was beating — to insert scissors under his chin, to cut open his face, and to remove his brain. . . . Watch these videos [and] ask yourself: Are these my values?”

#share#Cruz thinks such a focus would enable Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it entailed a government shutdown. “You know how you win the fight? If suddenly Democratic senators start getting thousands and tens of thousands of calls from their constituents saying, ‘Why are you fighting for criminal organizations?’” he said.

Cruz returned to his primary theme of leadership failures throughout the discussion. “It’s got to start with Republican leadership not aiming the cannons at Republicans,” he said.

#related#For all that, Cruz refused to call for McConnell’s ouster as majority leader, even as back-bench critics of House Speaker John Boehner have set the stage for a coup attempt.

“That is a question, at the end of the day, for the Republican conference. At least to date, the Republican conference has been willing to accept leadership’s handing control of the agenda over to Democrats,” he said. “I hope that changes. . . . I would be thrilled if Mitch McConnell would actually lead.”

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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