Ted Cruz Accuses Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Lying
Cruz, the sometimes-incendiary Texan running for the Republican presidential nomination, took to the Senate floor Friday to call his party’s majority leader a liar in an extraordinary public airing of grievance.
Mr. Cruz, an ardent opponent of the federal Export-Import Bank, reacted in remarkably personal terms after the leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, allowed a vote pressed by a large, bipartisan group of senators to resurrect the government’s export credit agency.
“I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie,” Mr. Cruz said of Mr. McConnell, who he said had promised him there was no deal to bring Ex-Im up for a vote.
Mr. Cruz said allowing that vote on the measure – which almost certainly will pass – was “an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator but what he told the press over and over and over again was a simple lie.”
Mr. Cruz has been a controversial figure since his arrival in the Senate in 2013. He helped shut down the government that year in a vain effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, and pressed to shut down the Department of Homeland Security this year over President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
The senator has challenged Democrats at every turn. But he has largely held back on attacking fellow Republicans.
“In my time in the Senate I haven’t impugned the character of Republicans or Democrats and I don’t intend to start today,” he said earlier this month, when pressed to condemn a fellow Republican White House hopeful, Donald Trump, who had questioned Senator John McCain’s wartime heroism.
On Friday, Mr. Cruz held nothing back. He detailed what he said was a closed-door confrontation he had with Mr. McConnell in May, after supporters of the Export-Import Bank tried to derail a trade bill unless they were promised a vote to keep the bank open.
“It was a direct question I asked the majority leader in front of Republican senators,” he said. He said that Mr. McConnell had been “visibly angry” and that like St. Peter, the majority leader had offered a denial three times: “There is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal.”
On June 30, the authorization ran out on Ex-Im, which offers loan guarantees and other assistance to the foreign customers of American exporters. Businesses large and small – but powered by some of the nations’s biggest corporations — Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar — have been pressing to reopen it ever since, arguing vociferously that the conservative war on Ex-Im is costing American jobs in the service of a purely ideological fight.
Mr. McConnell, in allowing a vote to reopen the bank as early as Sunday, was careful to say he personally opposed it. At the same time, he offered conservatives a compromise in the form of a separate amendment to the highway bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Cruz called that “an empty show vote” and a “good way of distracting what’s going on.”
“The Republican leader is behaving like the senior senator from Nevada,” Mr. Cruz said, accusing Mr. McConnell of running the Senate the same way Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, operated when he was the Senate majority leader.
In a test vote last month, 65 senators – Republican and Democrat – showed they would vote for the Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization. A similar majority exists in the House, although it is not clear whether Speaker John A. Boehner will accept the Senate’s Ex-Im push.