Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) career on Capitol Hill has spanned less than three months, but he’s clearly made an impression. Frank Bruni noted that Cruz is “an ornery, swaggering piece of work,” preoccupied with “grandstanding and browbeating.” The Atlantic added that “a remarkable number of both Republicans and Democrats” have already come forward “to say that they think Cruz is kind of a jerk.”
The New York Times reported that “even some Republican colleagues are growing publicly frustrated” with the right-wing freshman.
And all of this came before Cruz objected last week to a routine Senate resolution commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.
Congress passes hundreds of resolutions, meant to commemorate everything from a special awareness week or Little League champions. The resolutions lack any real power of law and are predominantly ceremonial. For example, earlier this month the Senate passed resolutions to mark “World Plumbing Day” and commemorating the three-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
In order to keep business moving and not clog the Senate floor, they are normally passed in bulk through a “unanimous consent agreement,” meaning a vote isn’t tallied since both sides agree to it.
But last week, Cruz objected to including the MS Awareness resolution. He was unhappy with a clause in the resolution describing the purpose of the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, according to a Democratic staffer.
Wonkette published the entire text of the uncontroversial resolution, and the only provision that seems remotely controversial – at least to someone on the far-right fringes of American politics – was language about “expanding access to medical treatment” for those affected with multiple sclerosis.
Maybe “expanding access” sounds to Cruz like code for “socialized medicine”? Perhaps, in the senator’s mind, those who can’t afford health insurance haven’t rightfully earned “access to medical treatment”?
Cruz’s office, meanwhile, said that the senator objected because he received a copy of the resolution “less than 48 hours” before it was brought to the floor. He wanted more time to review the measure before voting, so Cruz felt compelled to block unanimous consent.
For context, it’s worth noting that the symbolic resolution, which doesn’t actually do anything substantive, is only about 500 words; it was already approved unanimously by the Republican-led U.S. House; and as Steve M. noted, it “passes without objection every freaking year.”
But Ted Cruz balked anyway. It’s almost as if he wants to be disliked, not just by the American mainstream, but by his own colleagues in both parties.
In theory, this would do real damage to Cruz’s ability to be an effective lawmaker – who wants to partner with a senator they actively dislike? – but since he doesn’t seem interested in legislating, I suppose it doesn’t much matter.