Ted Cruz is in the crosshairs.
On Tuesday, House Republicans held a hearing with Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards, at which they excoriated the abortion activist for her organization’s sale of baby body parts to the highest bidder. Congressperson after Congressperson trotted before the cameras, rightly ripping the organization for performing hundreds of thousands of killings in the womb every year.
Then the Republican leadership worked behind the scenes to fund Planned Parenthood fully – and to stop Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) from thwarting their plans.
At the same time that Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Republicans target Planned Parenthood, Boehner has vowed not to allow any government shutdown – an incredible surrender, given that the only two tools of power for Republicans in Congress are impeachment (not going to happen) and the power of the purse. By promising in advance not to send President Obama a continuing resolution he will reject, Republicans have acquiesced to his agenda.
Ted Cruz must be stopped, even if Planned Parenthood isn’t.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chortles to the media that he has prevented Cruz from initiating another government shutdown. Last week, Cruz told the media that McConnell doesn’t lead the Senate – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) does. To prove Cruz wrong, McConnell has now signed off on everything Reid would want in a continuing resolution. That led Cruz to take to the floor of the Senate to bash leadership for refusing to “lift a finger to defend life,” even as McConnell prevented Cruz from amending the continuing resolution to stop funding for Planned Parenthood. As Cruz said, “Republican leadership simply says, ‘OK’ to Obama….Why, then, does it matter if we have a Republican or Democrat House or Senate?”
After an hour, McConnell and Democrats shut Cruz up through procedural means, with Cruz failing to garner the 11 votes necessary to continue speaking. Cruz, frustrated, said into a hot mic, “When I stood up, I didn’t know I was under a time limit.” On Tuesday, Republicans in the Senate stopped Cruz from speaking again. “Avoiding disruption was the goal, and so that’s why that happened,” said Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). “It’s easy to make Washington and the establishment and leadership a punching bag.”
McConnell and other establishment Republicans aren’t content to stop Cruz from defunding Planned Parenthood and forcing President Obama from shutting down the government. They want Cruz finished in his presidential race as well. Today, McConnell told Politico, “I have tried very hard to stay out of the presidential race, and I think that’s probably a good rule for me.” But McConnell’s deputy, Senator John Thune (R-SD), spoke for his superior: “We had to be prepared. [Cruz is] running for national office. He’s got a different endgame than we do.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) added his knife to those in Cruz’s back, explaining, “Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names which really goes against the decorum and also the rules of the Senate…He is pretty much done for and stifled.”
Thune told Politico Cruz had to be stopped, because “there are things we have to do here. We’ve got to fund the government every year.”
Actually, that isn’t true. That isn’t the Republican responsibility. The Republican responsibility, as the majority party in Congress, is to present to the President of the United States a budget that represents the wishes of their constituents. If he rejects it, negotiations take place. If those negotiations fail, the government shuts down, and 80 percent of the federal government continues to operate normally. Republicans were not elected to kowtow to the executive branch in the name of “things we have to do here.”
But Republican leadership don’t care about that mission. They care about maintaining control, which they believe means avoiding media blowback and stifling any conservative uprising. To achieve those goals, Ted Cruz must be stopped, even if Planned Parenthood isn’t.