Cruz: Budget deal the ‘cartel in all of its glory’

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday evening slammed a two-year budget agreement hours before an expected vote, suggesting it was the “cartel in all of its glory.”

“It is difficult to find a better illustration of the Washington cartel than the charade we are engaged in this evening,” he said, speaking from the Senate floor for more than an hour. “This represents the cartel in all of its glory.”

He added that the two-year budget deal — which also increases the debt ceiling — is both “shockingly bad” on policy but also “a manifestation of the bipartisan corruption that suffuses Washington, D.C.”

Cruz’s remarks come as the Senate is headed for a 1 a.m. procedural vote on the agreement, potentially paving the way for a final vote in the early hours of Friday morning. It’s unclear how long the Texas Republican plans to speak from the floor, but the Senate is scheduled to adjourn as late as 11:55 p.m., before coming back into session at 12:01 a.m.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deal would result in net deficit cuts by approximately $35 billion in 2025, but Cruz suggested those cuts would never happen.

“Nobody in this chamber believes that. Nobody in the House of Representatives believes that. No member of the press believes that. Everybody understands this is a lie. It is an agreed-to lie by everyone,” he added from the Senate floor.

The Texas Republican, who is running for president, is part of a growing number of Senate Republicans who are expected to vote against the deal.

While the legislation is expected to ultimately pass, it’s earned hard pushback from conservative Republicans, who suggest leadership caved on the debt ceiling and negotiated the deal in secret.

Cruz added that Senate Republicans are agreeing to remove a key fiscal fight — increasing the debt ceiling — until after President Obama leaves office.

“He’ll never have to worry about it again,” he said. “It says to the president, you can add whatever debt you like for the remainder of the term with no constraint from this body.”

The Texas senator has repeatedly criticized Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate leadership since Republicans took over the majority in January, playing into the anti-Washington narrative at the center of his presidential campaign.

He took another shot at McConnell during Thursday’s speech, calling him “the most effective Democratic leader we’ve seen in modern times.”
Jordain Carney