In a Saturday night statement, Sen. Ted Cruz once again called on the House GOP to stand against Obamacare despite the government shutdown and looming default, contending they can still "win this debate."
"House Republicans have heroically led this fight, and they should stand firm. Patience and courage and persistence is required, and will not come from the permanent beltway class," the Texas Republican said. "So-called grand bargains historically have been neither grand nor a bargain — typically resulting in more debt, more spending, and more government."
The statement comes in the aftermath of the news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are once again trying to find a way out of a budget stalemate in the final days before the Treasury Department exhausts all options to avoid default.
House Republicans appeared largely united Saturday morning against getting short-changed in a Senate deal.
Reid and McConnell have, of course, negotiated some of the very bargains in the past that Cruz is so vocally against. His strategy of opposing a continuing resolution that doesn't defund the health care law helped lay the groundwork that led to the current government shutdown, however.
McConnell explained the challenge of having Cruz and other outspoken members of his Senate Republican conference to the Lexington Herald-Leader during a Friday interview.
"Imagine you've been chosen by some mysterious process to be the leader of a bunch of class president types," McConnell said in an excerpt posted online Saturday evening. "A lot of big egos and sharp elbows. On any given day they probably think they can do my job better than me. I don't expect to be able to sort of skate through without any criticism."
"The American people expect their government to function — and we can ensure that right now. We can fund our essential priorities and commit to paying our debt first, even while opposing Obamacare," Cruz said. "The people want jobs and strong economic growth back, and Obamacare is a major impediment to both. As long as we keep listening to the people and fighting for jobs and prosperity, Republicans will win this debate."
Cruz's call to fund what he calls "essential priorities" seems to be a reference to the narrow "rifle shot" spending bills passed by the House but largely dismissed by the Senate (with Democrats insisting on reopening the entire government).
As for "paying our debt first," Cruz is among the Republican lawmakers in both chambers pushing for the Treasury Department to prioritize debt payments.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told congressional leaders in a letter that such a move would be "simply default by another name."