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As government shutdown looms, Cruz calls Dems 'absolutist'

The Republican leading the fight to defund President Obama's healthcare law called Democrats “absolutist” Sunday for refusing to budge as a government shutdown looms. 

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Senate Democrats have offered “zero” compromise and will be the ones responsible if the government shuts down Tuesday. The Republican-led House approved a government spending bill early Sunday that delays the healthcare law for a year, which Senate Democrats say is a nonstarter.

“It is the Democrats who have taken an absolutist position,” Cruz said. “I'd like to repeal every word of the law. But that wasn't my position even in this fight — my position in this fight was, we should defund it, which is different from repeal.”

Cruz suggested that he could get on board with a simple delay of the law if the Senate takes up the House bill.

“Even now, what the House of Representatives has done is a step removed from defunding — it's delaying it,” Cruz said. “Now that's the essence of a compromise. For all of us who want to see it repealed, simply delaying it for American families on the same terms as has been done for American corporations, that's a compromise.”

Cruz led a 21-hour filibuster against the healthcare law earlier this week, infuriating many members of his own party as the clock ticked away toward a shutdown for which some Republicans worry they'll be blamed. The House, however, over the weekend embraced a showdown, while downplaying Cruz's role in putting the healthcare law back in play.

The populist Tea Party favorite went on to assert that Democrats, and members of his own party, who have criticized his approach are enjoying the perks of Washington that guarantee they don't have to live by the laws they pass.

“I recognize that the Washington establishment hasn't been convinced by the arguments [against the law] because the Washington establishment has been exempted from some of the harms,” he said.

“People are frustrated with Washington, and the simplest reason is you've got politicians in both parties who aren't listening to the American people and who are living by a different set of rules,” Cruz said. “The ruling class gets exempted.”