Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said if he’s elected president he would waste no time in shutting down the federal government, something he tried but failed to do three years ago as a member of the U.S. Senate.
“The reason I tried to shut down the government three years ago is still present today,” Cruz said yesterday at a campaign stop in Harrisonburg, Pa. “Obamacare. Nothing has changed. That’s why, on Day One, I’m turning out the lights and locking the door to the federal government.”
Cruz embarked on a 21-hour filibuster in October 2013 to prevent a Senate vote on a bill to raise the ceiling on the amount of debt the United States government can incur. In years past, periodic increases in the debt ceiling passed routinely, regardless of who was in the White House, because of a constitutional requirement that Congress maintain the good faith and credit of the country. In recent years, though, lawmakers have tried to leverage the must-pass nature of the legislation to force changes in the way the government conducts its business. But no one has taken that to the extreme that Ted Cruz did, by trying to force a government shutdown.
“Cruz made his reputation among Tea Party conservatives by filibustering that routine bill,” says Steven Weaver, a Republican pollster. “What he’s saying now is, he’s going to take that to the next logical step by shutting down the government once he’s the head of it.”
What Cruz will do as president, once the government is shut down, isn’t clear. “Is he going to stay in bed?” says Richard Meyers, professor of political science at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. “Is he going to chaperone a field trip at his daughter’s school? I mean, once you’ve shout down the government, what are you going to do? All your employees are home. They might not even answer their phone.”
Hillary Clinton, the likely presidential nominee for the Democrats, said Cruz’s plan makes the choice between the Democrats and the Republicans clear. “Democrats are for keeping the government open, not closing it down,” she said yesterday at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh. “On Day One, I have a list of 10 good things I want to get done. And on Day Two, I have a list of another 10 things I want to get done. You can’t help the American people if you’re at home in your bathrobe watching reruns on TV. So, no, my administration will be hard at work on behalf of our citizens, from the very first day to the very last day. The door to our government will not be locked and the lights will not be shut off.”
Republican presidential nomination front-runner Donald Trump said Cruz has no plans to shut down the government should he be elected. “He’s lying,” he said. “That’s why I call him Lyin’ Ted, because nothing he says is true. You would have people dying in the streets if the government shuts down. No one will be dying in the streets when I’m president. Instead of shutting the government down, I’m going to be making better deals for us.”
Trump, who was campaigning in Philadelphia yesterday, called on the people of Pennsylvania to “shut down Ted Cruz” by voting for him.
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