With four Republican senators and one Democrat seeking the presidency, there is certain to be considerable presidential rhetoric and posturing on Capitol Hill. The public will be treated to an early taste of colliding congressional and presidential politics on Wednesday when Trump joins Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Cruz for a mass rally at the Capitol in opposition to the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. While Cruz and Trump are competing for many of the same voters, Cruz appears to be trying to rejuvenate his flagging campaign by inviting Trump to stand shoulder to shoulder with him in opposing the unpopular nuclear deal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) could come in for some serious criticism from Cruz and Trump for their handling of the Iran nuclear deal, American Enterprise Institute political analyst Norman Ornstein told The Fiscal Times last week. That’s because a legislative agreement struck by Congress and Obama earlier this year to allow a congressional review of the Iran deal strengthened the president’s hand in overcoming strong congressional opposition.
With more than 41 Senate Democrats now publicly in support of the agreement, it will be impossible for the Senate to muster the two-thirds super majority it would need to override the president’s veto. Cruz has already called McConnell a “liar” and charged that he and Boehner are no better than the former Democratic leadership in allowing conservatives to offer amendments and break away from the political status quo.
Cruz has also threatened to lead another spending revolt that could partially shut down the government this fall unless Congress agrees to slash funding for Planned Parenthood in the wake of the a series of videos showing an official of the organization talking about providing fetal tissue and aborted body parts to researchers.
Cruz was the major ringleader in forcing the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013 over Obamacare funding and appears to be threatening to do the same again. Late last week, he began circulating a letter among Senate Republicans asking McConnell not to schedule any legislation that authorizes or appropriates $528 million in funds for Planned Parenthood, according to The Washington Post.
Since he first took the reins of the Senate in January, McConnell has vowed there would not be a repeat of the government shutdown – and certainly not in the run-up to a crucial election next year that will determine the control of the White House and the Senate.
In an interview with a Kentucky TV station last week, McConnell said he would work with the White House and congressional Democratic leaders to forge a final budget deal to keep the government operating. However, that won’t be easy because the White House and the GOP are deadlocked over acceptable new spending levels for both domestic and defense spending.
“The Senate Democrats have a big enough number to prevent us from doing things,” McConnell told WYMT television in Hazard, Ky., noting that the Democrats have managed to block action on any of the dozen annual spending bills for fiscal 2016. In the coming weeks, he said, “I’ll be engaged . . . with the administration and others to try to sort out how much we’re going to spend and where we’re going to spend it.”