As House Republicans struggled Thursday to rally behind legislation to address the influx of illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a tea party favorite who has close ties to House conservatives, dismissed talk that he was partly responsible for the GOP’s stumble.
Defending his recent meetings with House Republicans, Cruz insisted that he was seeking fellowship with conservatives, rather than whipping against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
“One of the unfortunate things in Washington is how little communication there is between members of House and Senate,” Cruz said in an interview with The Washington Post. “For many months, I've been periodically hosting gatherings with House members to discuss issues and challenges of the day and our gathering last night was scheduled several weeks ago.”
“The suggestion by some that House members are unable to stand up and fight for their own conservative principles is offensive and belittling to House conservatives,” he added. “They know what they believe and it would be absurd for anyone to try to tell them what to think. In order for Washington to work better, and for Republicans to work better, and for Republicans to come together to defend conservative principles, we need to build relationships between both chambers and I’m working hard to do so. There should be much more of that in Washington.”
When asked whether he ever encouraged his allies to vote against Boehner’s border plan on Wednesday night, when he hosted more than a dozen House Republicans in his office, Cruz said he simply reaffirmed his position and listened closely to the concerns of his guests as they mulled how to proceed.
Cruz also recalled that he did praise efforts by Boehner to hold a vote on President Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which has granted temporary relief for some children of illegal immigrants and is set for renewal this fall.
“The House, to its credit, is trying very hard to pass legislation to prevent President Obama from illegally granting amnesty to millions of people who entered the country illegally,” he said. “Harry Reid and Democratic senators have refused to even discuss the matter, much less allow a vote on it.”
But the idea that the freshman is looking to be speaker in all but name is “hyperbole,” uttered by “Democrats desperate to shift blame,” Cruz said.
“In the months before an election, or heading into a congressional recess, we always seem to enter silly season,” he said. “The focus of this debate needs to remain on the cause of the crisis and the cause of the crisis is President Obama’s refusal to follow the law.”