Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) did his level best to stay relevant among his conservative base Monday night by stoking the flames of the anti-Obamacare debate.
Speaking to an audience at a Heritage Action policy summit last evening, Cruz attempted to rally newly elected Republican conservatives to his passionate crusade to repeal Obamacare and to block President Obama’s executive order on immigration. He also wants to abolish the IRS, though he’s probably not as likely to get support for that one.
Cruz challenged the freshman Republicans to make good on the campaign promises that got them elected to the 114th Congress. He noted that all 12 new members ran on the idea of repealing the president’s health care law.
It was Cruz’s Tea Party rebellion that led to a partial shutdown of the federal government over the health care law for 16 days in October 2013. While most congressional Republicans are gearing up to take aim at some of Obamacare’s most vulnerable provisions, Cruz and others remain set on repealing the whole thing.
Cruz has acknowledged that repealing Obamacare in its entirety would be a difficult (no, impossible) feat with President Obama in the White House. Nevertheless, he thought the GOP might have better luck against Obama’s immigration initiatives. He said the GOP should use every procedural maneuver that is possible, including reconciliation, to pass an Obamacare repeal with 51 Senate votes and to “secure the border and stop the president’s unconstitutional amnesty.”
“We need to demonstrate that we believe the words we said on the campaign trail,” Cruz said in his Monday night speech. “The public must hold us accountable for the promises we made.”
“Nearly a quarter of the Republican conference are freshmen,” he added. “And I’ll tell you what I’ve encouraged every freshman – is that if each of you who fought and clawed to win an election – if each of you simply stands up every day and says, ‘Hey, let’s do what we said we would do,’ that would have a transformational effect on the United States Senate.”
The first-term senator, 44, said that Republicans didn’t sweep the midterm elections in November because voters embraced their policies. Instead, he said, “The election, in my view, was the voters roundly repudiating the path we’re on” – and he called Obamacare a policy with devastating consequences that must be repealed.
“Let’s stand up and lead. Let’s lead with a big, bold positive agenda that says to the American people, ‘You had a referendum and you rejected the Obama agenda. There is a better way.’ That’s our opportunity,” Cruz said.
The GOP leadership has signaled there will be a vote to repeal Obamacare, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has spent more time discussing legislation that would eliminate less popular provisions of the law, such as the medical device tax.
Cruz’s Heritage Action speech came just days after Mitt Romney privately told donors he is now considering a run for president in 2016. Last month, Jeb Bush announced he was exploring the notion of following in his father and brother’s presidential footsteps. The news about those two possible candidates has largely buried any mention of Cruz’s own presidential ambition – though that may have just gotten a fresh jumpstart.
When asked Monday night if he planned to run for the White House, Cruz responded, “It is certainly a debate I intend to participate in vigorously.”
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