Freshman Rep. Chip Roy’s decision to single-handedly delay billions of dollars in aid to areas devastated by natural disasters is on brand for the protege of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
Roy (R-Tex.) has made a career of deriding Washington, even while working as an insider.
Congressional leaders were expected to start their week-long Memorial Day recess having passed a popular, months-stalled disaster-relief package. Instead, Roy used a legislative maneuver to hold up the measure, objecting to its high price tag and that it didn’t include additional money the White House requested for the southern border. He also opposed the effort to pass it quickly by unanimous consent after many lawmakers had already left town.
Amanda Carpenter, who worked with Roy in Cruz’s Senate office, called Roy’s objection “the perfect demonstration of what a consistent conservative would do to keep the government fiscally accountable while demanding action to secure the border.”
“This is the courageous Chip Roy I worked with in the Cruz office,” she said.
Roy earned a law degree from the University of Texas and spent several years as an investment banker before shifting to politics.
He started in the inner circles of the Texas GOP, working for Sen. John Cornyn and later for Gov. Rick Perry. He ghost wrote Perry’s book, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.”
In 2011, Perry appointed Roy as his state liaison to Washington. At his confirmation hearing in the state legislature, Roy referred to the federal government as “intrusive” and said it “spends our money recklessly,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
State Democrats balked at the idea that Roy, who openly despised big government, would advocate for the state’s interests in Washington.
When Cruz was elected in 2012, he hired Roy as his chief of staff. Conservatives cheered Cruz’s choice. Erick Erickson of Red State said it showed Cruz would not “sell out the conviction he ran on, but actually, as we’ve all known, does believe in federalism, the 10th Amendment and limited government.”
In that role, Roy helped engineer Cruz’s most famous act of obstruction. In 2013, Cruz persuaded fellow Republicans to vote against funding the government unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded, leading to a 16-day shutdown of the federal government. When some of Cruz’s GOP colleagues tried to reason that it was an unachievable goal, Roy labeled them the “surrender caucus.”
Roy then took a leadership role on the politics side when Cruz ran for president.
In December 2017, Roy announced that he would compete for retiring Rep. Lamar Smith’s seat, representing a district encompassing the area between San Antonio and Austin. Roy catapulted to the front of a crowded primary with the support of the anti-establishment Club for Growth and his former boss.
“I worked everyday, side-by-side with Chip. I can tell you this — this man is a conservative in his bones,” Cruz said, according to a Fort Worth Business Press article. “And when it comes to who’s going to have a backbone — those first couple of years, you remember some of the brutal, bloody fights we had. I can tell you Chip was there side-by-side, leading the fight.”
Roy’s decision to hold up the disaster relief bill is reminiscent of the early days of Cruz, who was willing to be disruptive to carry out the role of principled conservative in Congress.
His objection denies his own hurricane-ravaged home state the relief aid they have been waiting months to receive from Washington. The $19 billion package passed the GOP-led Senate with President Trump’s blessing. Both Texas senators, Cruz and Cornyn, voted for it.
Even so, many conservatives on social media celebrated him.
“Way to fight the good fight @chiproytx. The people of Texas are lucky to have you,” tweeted Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Neither Cruz nor Cornyn responded to requests for comment about Roy’s decision to stall the aid.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who see Roy’s seat as a potential pickup in 2020, immediately launched a digital attack ad that reads, “Rep. Chip Roy is keeping Texas families underwater,” over an image of Roy submerged in water.