WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) launched into a tirade on the corrupting role of lobbyists and campaign contributions in Washington during a Senate floor debate Friday about the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.
“It’s not that this majority gets things done,” Cruz said. “It does get things done, but it listens to one and only one voice. That is the voice of the Washington cartel of the lobbyists on K Street of the big money and big corporations.”
Cruz’s comments came amid debate over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that provides credit to corporations to finance and insure foreign purchases. The largest recipient of the bank's support is the giant aerospace corporation Boeing.
The bank is the target of a massive campaign by libertarian-minded groups like Heritage Action and the billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners . Support for the bank has been funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest corporate lobby. The standoff has been billed as major battle between the tea party wing and the corporate wing of the Republican Party.
The bank’s authority lapsed in June, as Congress declined to approve it.
What sparked the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate's tirade Friday was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's announcement that he would allow two amendments to a transportation funding bill: one to repeal Obamacare and another to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.
Cruz said on the floor that McConnell lied to him and other Republicans when he sought support to provide President Barack Obama with fast-track trade authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement the U.S. is negotiating with Pacific nations. According to Cruz, McConnell promised that he would not allow any amendments to reauthorize the bank.
In response to the amendment, Cruz took issue with money in politics, with targets ranging from McConnell to Senate Democrats:
“Every Democrat who rails against big money and corruption in Washington, every Democrat who styles himself or herself a populist -- their actions on this matter speak far louder than their words,” he said. “And when it comes to Republicans -- Republicans are also listening to K Street and the lobbyists. Why? It’s not complicated. The giant corporations that are getting special favors from the taxpayers hire army of lobbyists that write campaign checks after campaign checks -- and by the way, these checks go to both Democrats and Republicans. It is career politicians in both parties that are kept in office by looting the taxpayer to benefit wealthy powerful corporations.”
Cruz’s solution to big money in politics, however, may not exactly be conducive to reducing corporate control of Congress. In 2014, he introduced a bill to eliminate all limits on campaign donations to allow political candidates to raise unlimited sums from any source, whether a person, corporation or labor union. At least on that issue, Cruz, the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce can all agree.