Paul replaces Cruz as GOP agitator
BY ALEXANDER BOLTON
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has replaced Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the prime conservative agitator in Congress.
Paul is waging a public relations war against the House Republican healthcare reform legislation in the hope that he can bring Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the measure’s champion, to the negotiating table.
The Kentucky senator is betting that if he can convince a relatively small group of House conservatives to vote against the legislation, it will force House GOP leaders to back away from what he calls “*ObamaCare lite.”
“There’s really no negotiating going on. Ryan is giving up nothing until he determines he doesn’t have enough votes. If we get to the point where he doesn’t have enough votes, then he’ll negotiate,” he told The Hill in an interview Tuesday.
While Cruz is aligned with Paul, he is taking a much softer approach, trying to work more collaboratively with Trump and Republican leaders in both chambers. He is eschewing the confrontational tactics of the 2013 *ObamaCare debate that alienated many of his Republican colleagues.
Cruz says the circumstances are now different with Trump in the White House. When Democrats controlled the White House and the Senate, Cruz saw himself in the role of member of the loyal opposition.
Now that Republicans have the White House, Cruz thinks he can be more effective *negotiating with party leaders instead of trying to twist arms by applying pressure through the House Freedom Caucus.
Paul, however, argues the stakes are much higher now than they were in 2013.