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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Cruz Campaign Against ObamaCare -- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal

The freshman Texas Senator volunteers House Republicans for duty on his implausible defunding gambit.

imageSo House Republicans have passed and sent to the Senate a budget that includes no funding for the Affordable Care Act, setting up a political showdown that could result in a government shutdown. We wish the GOP luck, since we support the policy if not the strategy. But however this charge into the fixed bayonets turns out, we hope the folks who planned it will take responsibility for what happens now.

That starts with Senators Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas), who joined with a handful of conservative groups to force Speaker John Boehner's hand. In July they had vowed to mobilize a grass-roots "army" to support ObamaCare repeal. The legions never arrived, but the activists still insisted that any continuing resolution to fund the government had to zero-out ObamaCare. They recruited a rump minority of the House majority to defeat a budget that would have maintained the automatic spending cuts built into current law.

Messrs. Cruz and Lee have thus got their way, though it's far from clear what they can accomplish. Senate Democrats have said they'll strip the ObamaCare provision and send a budget back to the House, perhaps with higher spending levels. And even Mr. Cruz has already acknowledged he can't do much in the Senate, where Republicans hold only 45 seats. 

"Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so. At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people," Mr. Cruz said in a statement last week.

The freshman Senator's latest gambit is to pledge to filibuster the bill he asked the House to pass so it never reaches the Senate floor and Mr. Reid can't strip the House language. But even if that succeeds, which is unlikely, it merely postpones the inevitable unless Mr. Cruz and Republicans want to prevent the Senate from passing any budget at all.

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