CRUZ SENATE RETURN STIRS GOVERNMENT ‘SHUTDOWN’ SPECULATION

Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) expected return to the Senate this week is stirring new fears that the conservative lawmaker could once again interfere with Republican leaders’ plans to avoid any crisis when government funding runs out this fall.

After Cruz bowed out of the Republican presidential race, talk immediately turned to what the Texas conservative plans to do when he meets up with his Senate colleagues and whether he will fight Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) strategy to avoid any replay of the 2013 government shutdown that Republicans largely blame Cruz for putting in motion.  

Sen. Ted Cruz

(Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

McConnell’s plan to return to “regular order” and pass individual spending bills already is in trouble, and observers on K Street said they are watching to see if Cruz helps to derail it completely. At stake is whether the government is funded – and whether Republicans can show they can govern going into the November elections.

McConnell already has to help defend 24 Republican seats this fall and the threat of a shutdown will make his job a lot tougher, Republican strategists said.

“I would hope that they would recognize that there’s danger in the United States for Mr. McConnell and his party going into the minority by having a government shutdown,” a top Republican strategist said.