Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWounded Ryan faces new battle The mystery of Ivanka Trump Conservatism's worst enemy? The Freedom Caucus. MORE (Texas) did an about-face on trade Tuesday, voting to oppose the advancement of fast-track legislation he supported and defended less than a month ago.
"TPA in this Congress has become enmeshed in corrupt Washington back room deal-making, along with serious concerns that it would open up the potential for sweeping changes in our laws that trade agreements typically do not include,” Cruz wrote in a note to conservatives on his 2016 campaign website.
The note came with the Senate poised to vote on whether to advance the fast-track bill. Cruz was one of five Republicans to vote "no." The measure still advanced in a 61-37 vote.
Cruz’s latest “note to conservatives on trade” replaces a June 12 post on his campaign website that detailed his pro-trade position.
His opinions began to change over the past month as Republican and Democratic leaders hashed out an agreement to save the president's trade agenda after the legislation stumbled in the House.
“There’s too much corporate welfare, too much cronyism and corrupt dealmaking, by the Washington cartel," Cruz wrote on Tuesday.
Cruz criticized Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Dems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee This week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat MORE (R-Ky.) for acquiescing to Democrats and Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerWounded Ryan faces new battle Bottom Line Trump, GOP fumble chance to govern MORE (R-Ohio) for punishing members of his own party for voting against the legislation.
He expressed concerns that deals were being made to save the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, as well as the discovery of other information that reflected possible ways that U.S. immigration laws could be changed without congressional input.
"Despite the administration’s public assurances that it was not negotiating on immigration, several chapters of the TiSA [Trade in Services Agreement] draft posted online explicitly contained potential changes in federal immigration law," Cruz wrote.
"TPA would cover TiSA, and therefore these changes would presumably be subject to be fast-track," he said.
On Tuesday, Cruz said he wouldn't support fast-track unless McConnell and BoehnerJohn BoehnerWounded Ryan faces new battle Bottom Line Trump, GOP fumble chance to govern MORE "both commit publicly to allow the Ex-Im Bank to expire — and stay expired."
“And, Congress must also pass the Cruz-Sessions amendments to TPA to ensure that no trade agreement can try to back-door changes to our immigration laws, he wrote.
"Otherwise, I will have no choice but vote no.”
Cruz’s flip on trade represents a 180-degree swing for the GOP presidential hopeful, who has spent the past few months publicly supporting the trade agenda.
In April, he teamed up with Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanWounded Ryan faces new battle Can Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? Trump: Dems ‘will make a deal’ on healthcare MORE (R-Wis.), a co-author of the fast-track measure, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in which the lawmakers agreed that Congress needed trade promotion authority to strengthen its hand to shape global agreements.
“In short, TPA is what U.S. negotiators need to win a fair deal for the American worker,” Cruz and Ryan wrote.
“But Congress can’t just take the administration’s word that it will drive a hard bargain," they wrote.
"We have to hold it accountable, and that is what trade promotion authority will help do."
After he voted for TPA the first time around, Cruz hit the airwaves to defend his position and his conservative credentials.
“There is nobody in the United States Congress who has stood up and fought President Obama more than I have,” Cruz said in one interview. “This has been a lawless president who has abused his power, and every turn … I had been leading the fight.”
“I don’t trust this president any more than you do,” he added. “But at the same time, my top priority in the Senate has been jobs and economic growth.”