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Ted Cruz: Preserve Filibuster, Even For Obamacare Repeal

Cruz wants to keep the filibuster, even though it makes it harder to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There's a limit to what Sen. Ted Cruz would do to repeal Obamacare.  

The Texas Republican said Monday that Republicans should do “everything humanly possible to repeal Obamacare" during a speech at Heritage Action’s annual policy summit. It's a line he's used before. But he later added a caveat.  

When asked if Republicans should use the "nuclear option" to ditch the filibuster on legislation and get more bills to President Obama’s desk, including a bill repealing Obamacare, Cruz told reporters, “no, we should not.”  

“We should preserve the procedural protections in the Senate for the rights of the minority,” he said. Borrowing an analogy used by the framers, Cruz said the Senate is “like the saucer under the tea cup to cool deliberations, and I think those checks and balances were inspired. And one of the ways to limit rash decision-making is the requirement in the Senate of a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.”  

Senate Democrats effectively ended the ability of a minority to filibuster nominations except Supreme Court nominees. They did it using the "nuclear option" to effectively change Senate rules by overturning the ruling of the chair by a simple majority vote.  

The same process could be used to effectively end the filibuster for legislation, a prospect that was raised during the debate over the nuclear option in 2013, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said it will take 60 votes to pass a repeal bill. Cruz is encouraging the use of the budget reconciliation process to use a simple majority to get legislation through the Senate that would undo as much of the health care law as is possible without going to the extreme step of upending rules and precedents.  

That method would get a measure to Obama's desk that could negate huge chunks of the law.  

But that would amount to a lot of trouble just to send a veto-cannon-fodder bill to Obama's desk.  

Reconciliation bills are immune from a filibuster but require passage of a joint congressional budget resolution, and the legislation is limited to budget-related issues.  

In his speech, Cruz also recommended that Congress get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, a move that Democrats — and some of his fellow Republicans — would consider a rash move, although the Republican National Committee has been pushing the same message.  

Cruz admitted that that was probably unrealistic as long as Obama was in the White House.  

Cruz also called for increased border security, a more robust energy policy, and reining in the White House, including on the executive action on immigration.  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.