Cruz – who was at the heart of the 2013 shutdown that went on for more than two weeks – stated during a tour of an air conditioning factory that
“I will say I’m concerned. I think Chuck Schumer and the Democrats want a shutdown.”
At issue is a potential Senate resolution to continue funding of the federal government. Failure to pass such a resolution by month’s end would force a shutdown of nonessential government services until funding is restored. Because the Senate is currently midway through a two-week recess, timing will be crucial once lawmakers return to Washington.
The sticking point for both sides seems to be Obamacare. As part of his efforts to get Democrats to the table on the recently-failed American Health Care Act, President Trump threatened to defund portions of Obamacare in the upcoming spending bill. If that happens, Cruz believes Democrats will refuse to support it.
“I do have some concern that to appease the radical left, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats may do everything they can to try to provoke a shutdown.”
The potential inclusion of funding for programs of interest to Trump – such as his oft-promised wall along the US-Mexico border – could also provide additional motivation for Democrats to oppose the measure.
Ironically, the 2013 shutdown – which featured the Cruz filibuster effort that basically made him a star in the eyes of conservatives – was also over Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act had just won a stunning Supreme Court victory with new Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote, and conservatives saw the withholding of funds as their last chance to stop it.
Establishment Republicans, however, saw the move as doomed to failure and potentially damaging to the party – a position that many say was confirmed by polls that showed Republicans largely taking the blame for the ensuing 16-day shutdown. That hit is believed to have played a significant role in Cruz’ Senate colleagues refusing to back him in the heat of his 2016 Presidential run.
Whereas Cruz’ effort was an action taken in an effort to directly oppose that one piece of legislation, Cruz implied Monday that Democrats’ current opposition to the funding measure has more onerous roots.
“You know, one of the dynamics we’ve got is the Democratic radical left is demanding of Senate Democrats that they oppose everything, that they engage in across-the-board obstruction.”
Whether that effort results in another government shutdown – and who will take the resulting hit with public opinion this time – we will have to wait for at least another week to find out.
Until then, Washington may well be experiencing the quiet before a big storm.