Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, is warning that the “Democratic radical left” wants to shut down the government with less than two weeks before the April 28 funding deadline.
“You know, I very much hope we don’t have a shutdown,” Cruz told reporters, according to the Texas Tribune. “I will say I’m concerned. I think Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the Democrats want a shutdown.”
The one-time presidential hopeful went on to say that the liberal base is pushing Democratic lawmakers to “engage in across-the-board obstruction” to any proposals put forward by the GOP or President Donald Trump.
“So I do have some concern that to appease the radical left, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats may do everything they can to try to provoke a shutdown,” Cruz said.
Cruz made headlines in 2013, when he led the fight to defund Obamacare, which ultimately resulted in a 16-day government shutdown. At the time, the Tribune reported, some Republicans slammed Cruz for helping usher in a shutdown without any realistic leverage to get then-President Barack Obama to budge on the issue.
Right now, lawmakers are in the middle of a two-week recess. When they return next week, they will have only days to pass a funding measure to keep the government functioning.
Trump’s budget blueprint, which was unveiled last month, calls for a sharp increase in defense and border security spending and cuts funding for such items as the Environmental Protection Agency (a 31 percent cut). The president’s budget also calls for the defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts, which amounts to 0.004 percent of the entire federal budget.
Democrats, though, have major reservations about the funding changes the president would like to see and will likely oppose any supplementary spending bills that reflect Trump’s budget proposal.
When asked if he would be comfortable tying funding for the construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, for instance, to a funding bill to keep the government open, Cruz said Congress “should use the power of the purse, use appropriation, to implement good policy.”
He refused to comment on what issues, specifically, he would like to see tied to the next appropriations bill, telling reporters he is reserving judgment until he’s seen the text of the bill.