Cruz: Wrap Iran deal into funding fight

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Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzParty chairs see reversal of fortune McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Cruz holds back support for Trump with eye on abortion MORE (R-Texas) says the Senate should use its short-term spending bill to force President Obama to hand over the "side deals" between Iran and international inspectors. 
 
"I believe what Congress should do is a pass a continuing resolution that funds the government, but that provides two conditions," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Number one, it does not give taxpayer funds to a private organization — Planned Parenthood — that is under multiple criminal investigations. Number two, it uses the power of the purse to force this administration to hand over the Iranian side deals." 
 
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The Texas Republican, who is running for president, has repeatedly pushed for the Obama administration to hand over the text of the side deals with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Cruz, and a growing number of House Republicans, argue that the 60-day congressional review period of the nuclear deal should not have started because the side agreements weren't given to Congress. 
 
The administration says it has been briefed on the side deals but does not possess the documents. It argues that the deals are “technical arrangements” that the IAEA reaches with every country it inspects.
 
Cruz's remarks come after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo McConnell-allied group: We'll back Rubio if he runs for reelection MORE (R-Ky.) teed up a procedural vote on a short-term spending bill that would redirect federal funding for Planned Parenthood to other community health centers.
 
He has circulated a letter trying to shore up support among his colleagues for requiring that a spending bill also defund Planned Parenthood. Asked if his colleagues had signed onto the letter, the Texas Republican replied that his "focus is on urging leadership to actually lead."
 
Republicans are expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with the funding bill. That could pave the way for a "clean" short-term bill that funds Planned Parenthood, something that Cruz would oppose. 
 
Unless McConnell can get Cruz and other senators to agree to speed up the votes, the Senate could be forced to hold a rare weekend session to work on a funding bill.
 
Asked if he would keep his colleagues in session through the weekend, Cruz told reporters that "my focus is on protecting the national security of this country and stopping a catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal and on ensuring that taxpayer funds do not go to Planned Parenthood." 
 
He didn't respond to a question about whether or not he would mount a filibuster, which could delay the Senate's action on a spending bill. 
 
The spending bill isn't the first time Cruz has tussled with the leadership of his own party. The Texas Republican also suggested during a blistering floor speech earlier this year that McConnell lied about a deal on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. 
 
The rhetorical battles play into the anti-Washington theme at the core of Cruz's presidential campaign. He doubled down on that Tuesday, saying that "the position of Republican leadership boils down to this: They will support 100 percent of the priorities of Democrats." 
 
"Today, the leader in the Senate is Harry ReidHarry ReidNearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate McCain files B amendment to boost defense spending MORE because Republican leadership has said nothing will pass without Harry Reid's support," he added. "Today, the leader in the House is Nancy Pelosi."
 
Some House Republicans had hoped that McConnell would use the "nuclear option" on the Iran deal to curb the filibuster and do away with the 60-vote threshold.

Asked Tuesday about those remarks, as well as input from presidential candidates, McConnell quipped to reporters: "We appreciate all of the good advice we're getting."
 
Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDems press ITT Tech to give students right to sue Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Funding boost for TSA sails through committee MORE (D-Ill.) chalked up the strategy of Cruz and other 2016 contenders on the short-term bill to trying to "separate themselves from the pack" and break out of a crowded presidential field. 
 
"Right now, Sen. Cruz obviously thinks the Senate floor is where he can make his best effort, and we're going to pay the price in terms of whatever he decides to do," he added. 
 
— This story was updated at 3:00 p.m.

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