The leader of the conservative Free Congress Foundation, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, told Newsmax TV
on Friday that tea party Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas needs to do more than just object to an emergency border bill being debated by his House counterparts.
"Sen. Cruz so far has merely stopped legislation; I don't think he's really articulated what needs to be done," Republican Gilmore told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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First-term Republican Sen. Cruz persuaded tea partiers in the other chamber to oppose their boss, GOP House Speaker John Boehner, on a proposal to speed aid to border authorities struggling with a flood of migrants from Central America.
Cruz said Boehner's legislation was too accommodating to President Barack Obama's original emergency request — which Cruz said would have granted residency to millions of people who are in the United States illegally. House conservatives agreed in numbers high enough to derail Boehner's bill
Gilmore said Cruz's cross-chamber sortie is "very unusual … I've never seen anything quite like that."
He credited Cruz with "trying to make an appeal to conservatives and to the sense of disquiet in the American population about the crisis on the southern border." He also said it's too early to tell whether Cruz hurts himself, politically, with his involvement.
"It depends on a lot of how this comes out," Gilmore said.
Indeed, on Friday, there were more signs that Cruz was continuing to have an impact: House conservatives coalesced around a tougher emergency funding bill
that would also clear the way to deport as many as 500,000 people.
But Gilmore disagreed with Cruz's depiction of the Boehner proposal as a stealth amnesty measure.
"I don't think that's what this bill offered by the Speaker is intended to do," said Gilmore. "And meanwhile, I think Sen. Cruz has sent no real vision about what he thinks the positive response ought to be for our country."
Gilmore urged Republicans in Congress to unite behind "legislation that is welcoming to the Hispanic community — which is adding so much to the United States — but doesn't create just open borders where we're totally out of control."
He also criticized the Democratic occupant of the White House for his handling of the issue.
"We have a crisis on the southern border that the American people are demanding be addressed, and he goes off and does more fundraising," Gilmore said of Obama. "There's got to be more to governance … than just raising money for your political party."
"It would certainly be better if we had a solid, conservative Republican leader in the White House articulating a national sense of direction," said Gilmore. "We're used to that in the United States. But in lieu of that — if we don't have that — then I think that we need to have the Republican leadership and the Republican members of the House of Representatives decisively stating their positions."
Gilmore said that as Virginia governor he traveled to countries beyond the U.S.-Mexico border and saw children living in impoverished conditions.
"Their parents would love to pay a criminal to transport them over the Mexican border to the United States, for them to have a better life, but this is tens of millions of kids south of the Mexican border," said Gilmore. "If we start a policy that encourages that, where's the end to it? And I think the American people are entitled to an answer to that question."
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