It's finally happening. The time of the Cruz-pocalypse is nigh.
We tried to pretend it wasn't going to happen. After all, the Republicans gained control of the Senate and kept control of the House there was talk that Congress might actually do things going forward, instead of just constantly fighting. That would mean that everyone, even Sen. Ted Cruz, would have to stop yammering, sit down and actually do some legislating.
But then we read some tea leaves and examined the astrological signs and all the other harbingers and forced ourselves to face the inevitable: Cruz isn't going to slide back into the vast sea of Republican senators. He's already refusing to endorse Sen. Mitch McConnell as Senator Majority Leader and threatening to force a vote on President Obama's "amnesty" plans. And that's just for starters. No, the writing is on the wall that he'll continue to make headlines, make speeches and keep right on Cruz-ing things up as he picks up steam for that practically inevitable run for president.
5. Cruz is about to have control of NASA. The Republican takeover of the Senate has a ton of repercussions, but one in particular grabbed our attention. Namely, Cruz will most likely become the chair of the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee. Why is this potentially a bad thing? Well, as Scientific American points out, Cruz was the ringleader of the government shutdown, which did lasting damage to scientific research since it meant a bunch of scientific research didn't get funded. Plus he's a climate skeptic so don't look for a lot of support for that sort of research.
Potentially even worse, despite being from Space City itself, Cruz hasn't been a big NASA supporter. In fact, he pushed for cutting NASA's budget last year despite the fact that the space agency's budget has already been cut to the bone, because NASA is almost always one of the first agencies on the chopping block. Sure, it's possible that Cruz might do things to actually bulk up the space program and maybe he would even send some love back to Houston's own Johnson Space Center. But the odds are good that his gospel of small government will win out and see him pushing for even more NASA budget cuts. There's nothing but bone left though so they'll have to really saw in to get to the marrow this time. Then he'll get to come home to Texas and reassure everyone he put both the science nuts AND the big government folks in their place, and that place had almost no funding.
4. Sen. John Cornyn is set to be majority whip, and Cruz is set to oppose his fellow Texan at every turn. While Cruz and his fellow Texas senator once got along well enough to pose for photos and go out stumping on the campaign trail together, those days are long past. For a while Cornyn went along with Cruz's diehard Tea Party schtick -- most likely in an attempt to shore up his vulnerable points and keep his seat, since a lot of regular old Republicans have been booted in favor of, well, Cruz and his ilk -- but by the fall of 2013 even Cornyn's patience had worn clean through.
As the Republicans and Democrats failed to work out a deal -- partly because of Cruz and his determined bid to both grab headlines and ensure no compromises were made -- and the federal government lurched toward a shutdown, Cornyn and Cruz engaged in a series of very public battles. Initially Cornyn supported Cruz's push to use the threat of a shutdown to force the defunding of Obamacare, but then the senior senator stopped backing Cruz and became one of the most vocal critics of Cruz's tactics. (We're betting that Cornyn was rolling his eyes and making this-is-so-dumb-it-makes-me-want-to-vomit faces all through Cruz's infamous Green Eggs and Ham non-filibuster filibuster.)
In response to this, Cruz refused to endorse Cornyn in his bid for re-election, which was a pretty big deal considering Cruz is a junior, first-term senator from the same state, and Cornyn is the second-in-command Republican in the Senate and has been in the Senate for more than a decade. Cruz helped out his colleague behind the scenes and eventually, grudgingly, kind of endorsed Cornyn, but the two were clearly set up on opposite ends of the fence.
Now Cornyn is pretty much set as majority whip, and he's been preaching the gospel of working across the aisle and meeting halfway. "Campaigns are one thing, and governing's another. And I hope we can separate the two," Cornyn said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "We can only go halfway. The president's going to have to meet us halfway, but I think we need to try. What we're doing isn't working. For anybody." Cruz has no such intentions, which leads us to our next worrisome sign.
3. Cruz has announced he's done playing nice. And he thinks he was nice before this.First, Cruz apparently believes he kept his elbows in and minded his manners his first few years in the Senate. Subsequently, we're kind of terrified of what Cruz will be like when the gloves really come off. He already publicly declared he's going to be against all things Obama moving forward. Cruz hasn't exactly been known as the guy that gets along with everyone since he was elected to the Senate in 2012. In fact, he's that rare gem of a politician who has managed to earn the loathing of both Democrats and Republicans in his brief time in Washington D.C.
And the thing is, it's worked for him. Cruz has made himself a household name and earned the avid adoration of the farthest right outreaches of his party by opposing anything that even smells like a compromise with those across the aisle. Meanwhile the Republicans have control of the House and the Senate and Cruz's political star just keeps rising.
But anyone who thought that Cruz would settle down and join the rank and file, do some legislating and generally get along moving forward has another think coming. For one thing, his antics in the Senate last year left him virtually friendless and there were a lot of Republicans who didn't want him to even think of stumping for them in their election campaigns. (Yes, Cruz claimed he was in high demand and ever so necessary, but he was out campaigning in Alaska in the days leading up to the election. Alaska.)
You can do without a lot of things in professional politics, but the one thing that is essential are friends that are also politicians that owe you favors. Cruz has few to none of these so he has little choice but to stick with the bit that has brought him this far. The weekend before Election Day Cruz's intentions were made plain in a Washington Post profile. Specifically:
"Cruz said the first order of business should be a series of hearings on President Obama, 'looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.'"
And it seems the Cruz-meister intends to stay committed to this approach. The Republican leadership has been talking nice and claiming they intend to work with the White House and the Democrats, but it remains to be seen how they are going to work around Cruz, who has promised to do just the opposite. After all, how can he work with the current president when he's working on being the next president?
2. He really did stop being Canadian. Back in August 2013, the world was regaled with a startling revelation, namely that despite the cowboy boots and the American flag pin and the Republicanism, Cruz was actually a citizen of the great nation of Canada.
See, Cruz was born to an American mother and a Cuban father, but he actually came into this world on Canadian soil. We've always figured it must have been hard for him spending all of those years fighting the urge to be extremely polite and to love hockey, pour maple syrup over everything and end every sentence with, "Eh." So in a way the truth coming out could have been his big chance to not make fun of Queen Elizabeth II while getting a little socialized medical aid while he mentally prepared to go run for Parliament and start campaigning to become the Canadian prime minister instead of running for president. There would have been winning all around, except for possibly Canada. Alas, it was not to be.
Cruz repressed his inner Canuck and in June he formally rid himself of his technical Canadian citizenship. Obama was from Kenya after all and he got to be president, but Cruz wasn't taking any chances.
1. He's already shopping for 2016 office space. It was possible to explain away some of it -- the constant grandstanding, the visits to Iowa and the way his hair has somehow taken on that certain presidential curve -- but now we've been presented with the clearest sign yet that we're on a rocky road and it's going to be a long hard walk: Cruz is shopping for 2016 office space right here in Houston. Cruz and his wife have been poking around local real estate looking for just the right spot to let loose the hell hounds that will most likely become a 2016 White House run.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.