Senator Ted Cruz is doubling down. He's becoming more confrontational with the White House and probably even his fellow Republicans.
In a breakfast with Bloomberg News, the junior senator from Texas said it would be "foolish" for his party to adopt a comprehensive immigration-reform bill along the lines of the bill passed by the Senate last year or the one being discussed by House Republican leaders. Cruz said the White House and Congressional Democrats are using the issue to gain a political advantage and Republicans shouldn't play into their game.
The Republican lawmaker also said it's critical that any extension of the debt ceiling be used to address "fiscal reforms" and cut spending. The White House has insisted that Congress pass a clean extension of the debt ceiling next month, leaving changes in taxes and spending for separate negotiations. Additionally, some Republican lawmakers have signaled they may go along with the president, citing their fear of repeating the steps that led to the government shutdown in October.
Cruz, who led the Republican effort last fall with his insistence on repealing the Affordable Care Act, made it clear at the breakfast that he won't support any move to pass a clean debt-ceiling increase.
He also suggested he wasn't fazed by the criticism he has been receiving from fellow Republicans. Asked about discussing his views with the Republican leadership he cracked that he's not getting phone calls from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner.
Cruz ducked a question about running for president in 2016 but he did outline the requisites for a Republican candidate; one that seemed to best fit Ted Cruz.
(Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.)
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