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Cruz to inject internet fight into spending battle

Cruz to inject internet fight into spending battle
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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCourt fines baker 0 for refusing to make gender transition cake Overnight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' MORE (R-Texas) is meeting with conservative lawmakers in both chambers to build support for a showdown with the White House over funding the government and power over the internet.

Cruz wants a stopgap measure to fund the government to include a rider that would block the administration from relinquishing the special oversight role the United States has had over the internet since its inception.

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“To stop the giveaway of our Internet freedom, Congress should act by continuing and by strengthening the appropriations rider in the continuing resolution that we will be considering this month,” Cruz said in a floor speech Thursday, referring to the stopgap.

Cruz has kept a low profile since ending his presidential campaign last summer.

He appeared at the Republican National Convention but refused to endorse GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE for president and was jeered as he left the stage.

The Texan retains ambitions for a future White House run, however, and the internet cause is popular with conservatives who argue that giving up U.S. oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers would empower U.S. rivals such as Russia, China and Iran.

The ICANN manages the domain name system, and the Obama administration intends to relinquish power to an international group of stakeholders.

Cruz, echoing conservatives, argues that maintaining U.S. control will ensure the web will continue to operate freely.

The prospect of Cruz leading rank-and-file House Republicans — including members of the House Freedom Caucus — into a last-minute fight with President Obama over a government funding resolution would be a rerun for the Texas senator, who was blamed by his colleagues for causing a 2013 government shutdown over an ObamaCare fight.

It’s also a headache for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNow we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin Zaid Jilani: Paul Ryan worried about culture war distracting from issues 'that really concern him' The Memo: Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes GOP establishment's lack of power MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel MORE (R-Ky.), who both want to avoid even the slightest chance of another government shutdown.

McConnell wants to take up the continuing resolution as soon as possible and with a minimum of conflict so vulnerable Senate Republicans can get back to their home states to resume campaigning.

“If we’re able to reach an agreement on the [continuing resolution], we’ll turn to that next week,” he told reporters Wednesday.

The 2013 shutdown sent the GOP’s approval rating into a tailspin, and McConnell vowed never to let it happen again.

Adding a partisan fight over internet oversight would complicate McConnell’s goal of getting a deal quickly. But it will be difficult to ignore Cruz, a persistent thorn in McConnell’s side.

The Texas freshman has the ear of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneYellen: Disclosure of tax data to ProPublica a 'very serious situation' Sanders won't vote for bipartisan infrastructure deal Bipartisan infrastructure deal takes fire from left and right MORE (R-S.D.), a member of McConnell’s leadership team, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Overnight Health Care: US buying additional 200M Moderna vaccine doses | CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine failed in preliminary trial results | Grassley meets with House Dems on drug prices Grassley meets with moderate House Democrats on lowering drug prices MORE (R-Iowa), who is facing his most competitive reelection race yet.

Thune and Grassley signed a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of Commerce Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him Obama Commerce secretary backs Biden's 2020 bid MORE Thursday raising concerns over the plan to cede the Commerce Department’s oversight over the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to other countries.

“The transition of the IANA functions to the global multi-stakeholder community is a serious groundbreaking and potentially unalterable action,” they warned, asking the officials to “reconsider the administration’s current plans.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE (R-Va.) also signed the letter.

It’s not clear that a rider would stop the administration. Cruz believes strongly drafted language would be effective, but Democrats say the issue falls squarely within Obama’s authority.

Cruz believes the administration must obtain express permission from Congress before going forward, while the administration sees it differently, adding another chapter to the long debate between Obama and GOP congressional leaders over executive power.

“Congress has for several years now prohibited the administration from using any funds to ‘relinquish control of the internet’ and yet in typical lawless fashion, the Department of Commerce has been racing to relinquish control by Sept. 30,” Cruz said on the Senate floor.

He will hold a hearing as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight and Agency Action Subcommittee to review the issue.

Cruz has also been in contact with Rep. Sean DuffySean DuffyRachel Campos-Duffy named co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend Lobbying world CNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' MORE, a third-term Republican from Wisconsin, who is leading the effort in the House.

On the other side of the Capitol, Duffy has pressed Ryan to include language in the continuing resolution that would block the administration from ceding power on Oct. 1.

Duffy has a bill blocking the transfer cosponsored by 20 GOP colleagues, such as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyMcConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data On The Money: House Democrats line up .5T in spending without budget | GOP takes aim at IRS | House Democrat mulls wealth tax Republicans open new line of attack on IRS MORE (Texas) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (Texas) and several members of the House Freedom Caucus: Reps. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineThe day President Kennedy sent America to the moon Bill Nelson is a born-again supporter of commercial space at NASA Has the Biden administration abandoned the idea of a moon base? MORE (Okla.), Dave Brat (Va.) and John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingLobbying world Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress MORE (La.).

If Congress fails to act by the end of the month, the transfer will take place, giving Cruz leverage in his effort to push fellow Republicans to take a stand on the funding stopgap, which must pass by Oct. 1.  

So far GOP leaders have been noncommittal in response to pressure from within their caucus to add language to the short-term funding bill blocking the administration from taking action.

The omnibus spending bill that passed last year included such a provision, but it expires at the end of September.

“A continuing resolution without corrective language would not extend the prohibition rider,” a GOP aide noted.

The White House budget office declined to say Friday whether adding language to stopping the transfer of internet oversight would draw a veto threat from the president.

A senior Senate Democratic aide suggested legislative language might not have any impact “since the transition is governed by a contract.”