If tea party firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz has his way, a Republican takeover of the Senate after Tuesday's midterm elections would give rise to an aggressive new GOP, empowering the party to go on the offensive against President Barack Obama and ultimately repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In a weekend interview with The Washington Post in Anchorage, Alaska, where the Texas senator spent the final weekend ahead of the midterms campaigning for fellow Republican Dan Sullivan, Cruz said he plans to push hard for a Republican-led Senate to be as conservative and confrontational as the GOP-led House. Sullivan's race is considered pivotal as the party looks to win control of both chambers.
Should Republicans gain control of the Senate from Democrats after the elections on Tuesday, Cruz said the first task should be a series of hearings on Obama, "looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration," the Post reported. Senators, he added, should be as aggressive as their counterparts in the House in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Cruz filibustered the health care law for more than 21 hours last September, and was criticized for the 16-day federal government shutdown that followed his stunt. The GOP-led House has voted more than 50 times to dismantle the law.
Asked whether he would support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as Majority leader, Cruz declined to endorse the Kentucky Republican, which could signal a strategy to expand his influence in the Senate as he considers a campaign for president in 2016.
Cruz's larger ambitions were also on display last week, when he took a direct swing at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He implied Bush would lose if he decides to run for president in 2016. Cruz -- who presents a radical alternative to more mainstream possibilities like Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- has implied that nominating a moderate GOP leader in the next presidential election would be dangerous for the party.
But some people argue the Republican candidates running this week are as extreme as ever. Joni Ernst, who is campaigning for the Senate in Iowa, once said she carries a gun to defend herself from the government. In Colorado, Cory Gardner claimed that he didn't support a Personhood effort to ban abortion, despite the existence of video footage.
Esquire magazine last month interviewed 90 members of the House and Senate and asked them to identify problems in Congress. Members on both sides of the aisle agreed that Cruz is an issue. When the U.S. Supreme Court in October declined to take up same-sex marriage cases in multiple states by putting the responsibility on lower courts, most of the GOP leadership remained silent. Cruz, in typical fashion, called the highest court's choice "judicial activism at its worst."