Speaking to the attendees of the group's policy summit in D.C., Texas Sen. Ted Cruz rallied the ALEC faithful and urged them not to let the growing chorus of criticism get them down.
"I first came to ALEC over a decade ago," Cruz said. "When I was serving in the Bush administration, I'd been privileged to work with ALEC in the federal government. I've been privileged to work with ALEC when I was back in Texas with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, leading the 10th Amendment Center, and I'm proud to stand with ALEC today."
Referencing Sen. Dick Durbin's earlier inquiry into ALEC's role in pushing "stand your ground" laws in states throughout the country, Cruz joked, "I was just at the Capitol and I was asked to pass along an inquiry from Sen. Durbin: 'Are you now or have you ever been a member of ALEC?'"
But more than cracking jokes, Cruz's appearance was dedicated to lifting ALEC's spirits. "I'll tell you this," he said at one pint. "My advice to ALEC is very, very simple: Stand your ground."
One piece of legislation being considered is what ALEC is calling a "soft repeal" of the 17th Amendment, which established the direct election of U.S. senators. Before the amendment was adopted in 1913, state legislatures chose senators.
Although he didn't comment specifically on the ALEC proposal, Cruz had unkind words for the 17th Amendment in his speech on Thursday.
"Prior to the 17th Amendment, the state legislatures' ability and authority to select senators was a powerful check on the federal government coming and intruding on the prerogatives of the state," he said. "Because if you have the ability to hire and fire me, I'm a lot less likely to break into your house and steal your television. So there's no doubt that was a major step toward the explosion of federal power and the undermining of the authority of the states at the local level."
He also said he would back a balanced budget amendment and an amendment that would give state legislatures more power in changing the U.S. Constitution.