By any fair measure, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is not popular among his Senate Republican colleagues. Indeed, once in a while, they make moves that suggest they actively dislike him, as was the case last week.
But the far-right senator is not without Capitol Hill allies. What’s unusual is that Cruz has found his compatriots on the other side of the building. The Washington Examiner reported yesterday afternoon:
Sen. Ted Cruz will meet with a group of House Republicans one day before they’re scheduled to vote for a new senior leadership team.Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has invited the Texas Republican, leading presidential contender, to address his Conservative Opportunity Society at a Wednesday breakfast meeting. The agenda, according to the invitation, is “conservative strategy for the remainder of the year.” Cruz has meddled in House affairs on several occasions, advising supportive insurgent Republicans in the chamber on key legislation and strategic matters.
The Texas Republican’s office confirmed that Cruz planned to meet with House conservatives today – just one day before House GOP members meet in private to nominate their choice for Speaker of the House.
Whether, and to what degree, Cruz intends to intervene in House affairs is not clear, but when the Washington Examiner said the senator has “meddled” in the lower chamber “on several occasions,” that’s no exaggeration.
In September 2013, just eight months into his congressional career, Cruz strategized with House Republicans privately. GOP lawmakers shut down the government a few days later.
In October 2013, Cruz met again with House Republicans about their shutdown gambit.
In April 2014, Cruz hosted a chat with House Republicans about strategy on immigration reform. A bipartisan reform bill died in the chamber soon after.
In June 2014, on the same day as the election of the current House GOP leadership team, Cruz met again with a group of House Republicans.
In July 2014, Cruz huddled with House Republicans, who took his advice, ignored their party’s leadership, and derailed a GOP border bill.
A week later, also in July 2014, they met again, this time as members were getting ready for their August break.
In December 2014, with Congress facing a funding deadline, Cruz huddled again with House Republicans.
In September 2015, Cruz met privately with a group of House Republicans once more as the party weighed another government-shutdown plan.
And today, with House Republicans poised to choose a new Speaker, there’s Ted Cruz hanging out with House Republicans.
Just to be clear, when the junior senator from Texas meets with GOP House members, he’s not huddling with every House Republican. In most of these gatherings, Cruz chatted with groups of a couple dozen lawmakers, not a couple hundred.
But given the political circumstances, in which a couple dozen members can make the difference between success and failure, Cruz’s influence in House affairs can have a real effect.
As for the bigger picture, a variety of far-right House members don’t yet have a preferred candidate in the Speaker’s race, and by most accounts, they’re not altogether pleased with their choices. If you’re thinking about whether they might like to see House Speaker Ted Cruz, you’re not the only one.