Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz took aim at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday, telling host David Gregory of “Meet The Press” that Reid was unwilling to even discuss a compromise to prevent a government shutdown.
“Let’s be clear what the Senate has done,” Cruz said. “So far, Majority Leader Harry Reid has essentially told the House of Representatives and the American people, ‘Go jump in a lake.’ He said, ‘I’m not willing to compromise. I’m not willing to even talk.’ His position is 100 percent of Obamacare must be funded in all instances, and, other than that, he’s going to shut the government down. Now, David, I hope he doesn’t do that. If Harry Reid forces a government shutdown, that will be a mistake. I hope he backs away from that ledge that he’s pushing us towards. But that is his position.”
Cruz emphasized he didn’t want a government shutdown, pointing out it was House Republicans looking to protect vital parts of government, including military pay.
“I don’t want a government shutdown,” he said. “I don’t think Harry Reid should shut down the government. Let me make one point. The House of Representatives did something else terrific last night, which is they passed a bill to make clear that, regardless of what happens, the men and women of our military should be paid. And Harry Reid, I believe, should bring that up. That passed unanimously in the House. And listen, right now, Harry Reid and President Obama have been essentially holding the military hostage, threatening their paychecks over this potential shutdown. They might force — I think regardless of what happened, we should pass the bill.”
Gregory asked Cruz if he thought a government shutdown were acceptable, to which Cruz said no and suggested it would be the fault of Democrats for not compromising if one were to occur.
“[O]f course it’s not acceptable,” Cruz said. “We shouldn’t have a shutdown, which means Harry Reid has to move off his absolutist position. His position — I mean, you’ve seen multiple compromises from the Republicans, and you’ve seen zero — I mean, can you tell me any movement the Democrats have had whatsoever, David?”
Gregory also asked who Cruz admired as a legislator, to which Cruz pointed to one of his predecessors, former Texas Republican Sen. Phil Gramm, primarily for his stance against the Clinton administration’s healthcare overhaul efforts in the 1990s.
“You know, I’ll tell you — the senator I most admire was former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm,” Cruz replied. “And it’s actually a very good example, going back to, you know, there are voices who say this is impossible. And if you remember back in 1993, I know you do, when Hillarycare was being debated. And when Hillarycare was being debated, there were a lot of Republicans who came forward with what I called at the time Hillarycare Light. ‘We’ll partially socialize health care.’ And it was because Republicans were convinced, “We can’t stop this.” And then Phil Gramm strode out there, and he said, and I know you’ll remember this, he said, ‘This will pass over my cold, dead, political body.’”
“And a whole lot of Republicans who were scared, they looked over,” he continued. “He wasn’t killed. They ran behind him, and they said, ‘Yeah, yeah, what he said.’ Look, the power of leadership can change debates. We saw that just a month ago with Syria. When President Obama said he was going to launch unilateral attacks on Syria, you had leaders of both houses of Congress support him. And then the American people spoke up in overwhelming numbers and said, ‘We don’t want to get involved in a sectarian civil war in Syria where there’s no clear U.S. national security benefit to doing so.’ And what happened? The entire federal government turned. We didn’t get involved. We didn’t launch those attacks. And just weeks earlier, conventional wisdom in Washington said, ‘It’s impossible.’”