Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz accused his own Senate majority leader of being a liar from the Senate floor Friday, and said Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress has not changed things “one iota” because both parties serve the “Washington cartel.”
Cruz began his highly charged speech after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) added the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to the highway-funding bill and prevented senators from adding more amendments.
“I sat in my office, I told my staff, the majority leader looked me in the eye and looked 54 Republicans in the eye,” Cruz said. “I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie, and I voted on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us. What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie.”
Reached Friday, a McConnell spokesman said the majority leader has not commented on what Cruz said.
Cruz said that his vote for trade promotion authority, also known as fast track, was cast on the basis that McConnell assured him there was not a deal made with the Democrats to support the controversial Export-Import bank. Cruz said he asked McConnell the question during a private Senate Republican lunch.
"I stood up and I asked the majority leader very directly, what was the deal that was just cut on TPA and was there a deal for the Export-Import Bank? It was a direct question. I asked the majority leader in front of all the Republican senators. The majority leader was visibly angry with me that I would ask such a question, and the majority leader looked at me and said, 'There is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal,'" Cruz said. "Like St. Peter he repeated it three times."
Cruz said his Senate staff was more skeptical.
“My staff told me, ‘He’s lying to you, we’ve been around here for a long time. He’s not telling you the truth,’” Cruz said. “I said, 'I don’t see how I can’t take him at his word.'”
Cruz even compared McConnell to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who frequently blocked debate.
“Now the Republican leader is behaving like the senior senator from Nevada,” Cruz said.
He added that since Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress, they have passed the Obama-supported “cromnibus” bill, funded Obamacare, funded his executive immigration actions and approved Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
“Which one of these decisions would be one iota different if Harry Reid was still the leader?” Cruz said.
The Export-Import Bank’s charter expired on June 30 when Congress did not renew it. It continues to exist, operating with $112 billion in loans, but cannot make additional loans.
Advocates of the bank say it makes it easier to sell American products abroad, and makes America competitive with subsidized economies in Europe and China, while opponents say it’s a major corporate welfare boondoggle, with 87 percent of the bank’s funding going to Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar
The support and opposition is not broken down along traditional lines, with some pro-business Republicans and business lobbyists in support of restoring the bank, but with Tea Party supporters oddly aligned with Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“I’ll give credit to Bernie Sanders for standing up against corporate welfare,” Cruz said.