Ted Cruz reinvents his stance on the 2013 government shutdown he championed

As Senate votes to re-open federal government, Cruz tries to revise history

By Matthew Sheffield
Published January 22, 2018 2:30PM (EST)
 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

As Democrats backed down from their effort to partially close the federal government over a dispute about immigration, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz encountered some severe resistance from reporters after he tried to claim that he had never favored using shutdowns as a negotiating tactic, even though he was the primary instigator of the last federal stoppage in 2013.

Back during that conflict, Cruz was the chief Senate ally of the House Freedom Caucus, a very conservative group of Representatives who said they would not keep the government running if a temporary "continuing resolution" under consideration included funding for the Affordable Care Act. Cruz and the Freedom Caucus hoped that they could persuade then-president Barack Obama and the Democratically controlled Senate to remove funding for the health care law, which was much less popular than it is today.

"In 2013, I voted repeatedly to fund the government and it was Harry Reid and the Democrats who voted 'no,' who voted to shut the government down," Cruz told reporters Monday in the Capitol building.

"Look, we should not be shutting the government down," Cruz said when he was asked if he believed temporary closures were valid to use as leverage in negotiations. "I have consistently opposed shutdowns. In 2013, I said we shouldn't shut the government down."

In truth, however, Cruz was among a handful of senators who consistently voted against measures which stripped out anti-Obamacare provisions the House had passed, much to the enragement of Republican leaders in both chambers who saw the Cruz-led effort as damaging to the GOP's prospects.

"Sir, you stood in the way of that," MSNBC reporter Kasie Hunt corrected Cruz. "That's simply not the case."

"Those facts are incorrect," Cruz interrupted, as Hunt was responding. "I get that you're trying to debate me but you don't actually have any facts."

It is Cruz that is mistaken, however. The ultimate vote that ended the 2013 shutdown was in the Senate and he was one of just 18 senators who opposed it. It was essentially unchanged from the earlier Senate measures which Cruz had also voted against.

Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Government Shutdown Kasie Hunt Senate Ted Cruz