WASHINGTON -- Ted Cruz is not content to drive Senate strategy on the budget and debt ceiling showdown. The Texas Republican senator is working with House Republicans to undermine Speaker John Boehner's various approaches to dealing with Senate Democrats and the White House, as first reported by National Review Online.
Cruz told reporters in response to the story Friday that he has had “numerous conversations with numerous members” in the House, but he wouldn't go into specifics. He ignored questions about whether he’s been pressing House Republicans to go around their leadership and engage in a protracted fight over the government funding bill, even suggesting that there’s no point in guessing what the House will do next.
"At this point, I don't think it makes sense to speculate on the possible bill the House might pass," Cruz said before slipping into an elevator.
A GOP leadership aide told HuffPost that Cruz's work against Boehner is familiar to them.
Boehner had hoped to find an exit path from the budget showdown, which could lead to a government shutdown by Tuesday, by focusing attention instead on the debt limit, which the government will hit later next month. Cruz advised Republicans to reject such an approach; he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told the tea party stalwarts that they would back them up in the Senate.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has aligned himself with Cruz and Lee in their campaign against Obamacare, appeared to distance himself from their latest effort to take the reins in the House.
"I'm not sure it's my job to give them advice," Paul told reporters. "On party lines, Obamacare will continue. Americans are going to have to judge whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing."
Cross-chamber alliances tend to be rare on Capitol Hill, especially ones aimed at undermining the leadership of the coalition's own party. But Cruz and Lee's work with House Republicans is more evidence of the open civil war underway within the GOP.
Does Cruz have an interest in running the House? The lower chamber's rules do not, in fact, require that the speaker be a sitting member of the lower chamber.