Ted Cruz accidentally makes a case for eliminating the filibuster

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Crus says he's upset that Texas Democrats are obstructing the 'will' of the majority.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) attempted Friday to eviscerate Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled the state to prevent a quorum for a GOP-backed voting restrictions bill. In the process, he accidentally made a strong argument against the legislative filibuster he and his party are using to thwart the Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress.

On the latest episode of his "Verdict" podcast, Cruz laughed about the fact that a few of the Texas state representatives tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Washington, D.C., and dismissed their move as an anti-democratic stunt.

"You shouldn't have the right to shut down the operation of the legislature. The legislature exists to do the will of the people. And these Democrats are trying to pull a political stunt to stop them from doing the will of the people," Cruz opined. "And by the way, they want to kill policies that the overwhelming majority of voters support."

But this would seem to conflict with his own record of shutting down the operation of the U.S. Senate through the filibuster and blocking the democratically elected majority from enacting popular legislation.

Though there is nothing about it in the Constitution, the Senate has for decades required a three-fifths supermajority for nearly all legislation.

Cruz has repeatedly flip-flopped on this rule, depending on whether his party is in full control of Washington, D.C. In 2015, he argued in favor of the 60-vote threshold and suggested using it to try to force the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

"We should preserve the procedural protections in the Senate for the rights of the minority," he told a right-wing policy summit, saying the chamber is "like the saucer under the teacup to cool deliberations, and I think those checks and balances were inspired. And one of the ways to limit rash decision-making is the requirement in the Senate of a 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster."

After Republicans won the White House and full control of Congress in 2016, Cruz told a Tea Party group, "Long and short out of it, I would end the 60-vote filibuster right now." He acknowledged it was an "issue on which I've changed my mind over the last five years."

Since losing control of the Senate in January, Cruz is a filibuster fan again: He and the Republican minority have repeatedly used it to obstruct legislation backed by the majority.

This week, Cruz and every other Senate Republican blocked Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's motion to begin debate on a bipartisan $579 billion infrastructure package. A Navigator Research poll on Thursday indicated that 66% of American voters support that framework.

Last month, they successfully filibustered the For the People Act, a widely popular bill to protect elections and reinvigorate democracy — even though a majority in the Senate was in favor.

In May, Cruz and most Republicans stopped legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Most senators and most Americans also backed that commission.

Cruz has even used the mere threat of a filibuster to stall non-controversial executive branch nominees.

The voter suppression legislation Texas Democrats are trying to prevent would decrease the hours available for early voting, add more limits to who can vote by mail, and give more power to poll watchers to interfere with elections.

And despite Cruz's claim, it is not actually backed by most Texans.

A June Quinnipiac University poll found that, by a 50%-45% margin, Texas adults believe stricter voting laws are not needed to secure elections.

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released at about the same time found just 35% of Texas registered voters believe the rules for voting should be made stricter. 29% said they should be left just as they are and 26% said they should be loosened.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.