By Vicki Needham - 10/06/13 01:53 PM EDT
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Sunday said changes to President Obama's signature healthcare law should be tied to a debt ceiling increase.
"The debt ceiling historically has been among the best leverage that Congress has to rein in the executive," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Of the 55 times Congress has raised the debt limit, Cruz argued that 28 of those times Congress has attached "very stringent requirements," many designed to reduce spending, including the 2011 sequestration plan.
So, a debt-ceiling increase should "respond to real harms coming from ObamaCare," Cruz said.
Cruz said Republicans have leverage because of "so many nasty partisan jabs from Democrats" proving that "we're winning the argument —Obamacare isn't working."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reiterated on Sunday that the federal government will run out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17.
After that, the government will struggle to pay its bills and head toward a default that is expected to shake U.S. and global markets.
He said the two fights — the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling increase — should not fold together, but that Congress should tackle one fight at a time.
Congress should complete work on the continuing resolution first, he said.
Cruz expressed support for the House Republicans' plan to pass bills that would open "vital" parts of the government.
Senate Democrats and the White House have said they won't pass those incremental bills.