Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
is being blamed for the spectacular suspension of Thursday's planned vote in the House on Speaker John Boehner's emergency border security bill, prompting the political observers to take a closer look at the influence the conservative lawmaker is having on Capitol Hill.
According to The Washington Post
, conservative momentum against the draft legislation by the leadership was triggered by a late night meeting
Wednesday convened by Cruz with roughly a dozen House lawmakers.
At the heart of the discussion was dissatisfaction that the $659 million emergency immigration measure did not go far enough in preventing what they call the "Obama amnesty" executive order, or the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which gives the president authority to delay deportations for some children of illegal immigrants.
Tea party lawmakers believe, including Cruz, that the 2012 law triggered the current immigration crisis, and insist the leadership's bill needs to include language to revoke and defund it.
Lawmakers who attended the meeting said they were resolute that the current version of the bill was not satisfactory and signaled they would not support it if it went up for a vote Thursday. The leadership was forced to suspend the vote and scramble to rework the legislation, realizing it would not have secured the necessary 218 votes to get passage.
Cruz has been unapologetic in the face of criticism that he helped sink the emergency aid package, and said in an interview with the Post that he did not dictate what House lawmakers should do but lent his support to their concerns about Boehner's plan, the Post reported.
"The suggestion by some that House members are unable to stand up and fight for their own conservative principles is offensive and belittling to House conservatives," Cruz said. "They know what they believe and it would be absurd for anyone to try to tell them what to think."
The House leadership reportedly is livid about Cruz's role in stalling the legislation, and his influence has also become fodder for Democrats who wish to reinforce the image that the GOP is in disarray, the Post reported.
Cruz also denied he was attempting to exacerbate divisions within the party or work against the speaker, saying his efforts stemmed from an ongoing interest in working more closely with conservative lawmakers in both chambers.
"One of the unfortunate things in Washington is how little communication there is between members of House and Senate," Cruz told the Post. "For many months, I've been periodically hosting gatherings with House members to discuss issues and challenges of the day and our gathering last night was scheduled several weeks ago."
He added, "The focus of this debate needs to remain on the cause of the crisis and the cause of the crisis is President Obama's refusal to follow the law."
Cruz's influence on the border security debate has raised his national profile in advance of a potential 2016 White House bid, the Post said, while strengthening his network of support both inside and outside the beltway, which began with his role last year in triggering the government shutdown.
Republicans are due to regroup on Friday morning to attempt to pass a border security measure before Congress adjourns for its five-week summer recess.
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