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 CruzSinger Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson in performing at O’Rourke rally Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Poll: Beto O'Rourke leads Cruz by 2 points in Texas Senate race 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 Trump 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 RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump 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 ThuneWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches More Dems want focus on job creation than wage growth Google, Apple, Amazon execs to testify at Senate privacy hearing this month MORE (R-S.D.), a member of McConnell’s leadership team, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDem: 'Bulls---' to say GOP doing everything to contact Kavanaugh accuser Grassley wants unredacted version of letter from Kavanaugh's accuser Attorney for Kavanaugh accuser criticizes Senate panel's ‘rush to a hearing’ 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 PritzkerElection Countdown: Trump plans ambitious travel schedule for midterms | Republicans blast strategy for keeping House | Poll shows Menendez race tightening | Cook Report shifts Duncan Hunter's seat after indictment Former Obama officials launch advocacy group aimed at Trump's foreign policy Trump transportation chief to join Biden for jobs event 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 GoodlatteVirginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers Republicans ready to grill Bruce Ohr as Trump-DOJ feud escalates 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 Patrick DuffyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel Strength in Unity: A lesson on civility and cooperation from Ireland 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 BradyHouse GOP bill a mixed bag for retirement savers China imposes new tariffs on billion of US goods: report Trump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods MORE (Texas) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresJordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker The White House can — and should — bypass Congress to kill Obama-era spending GOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives MORE (Texas) and several members of the House Freedom Caucus: Reps. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineNASA looking into selling naming rights for rockets to corporate brands: report NASA administrator says he always thought humans caused climate change We really are going back to the moon and then on to Mars MORE (Okla.), Dave Brat (Va.) and John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingOvernight Energy: Watchdog opens investigation into Interior chief | Judge halts Pruitt truck pollution rule decision | Winners, losers in EPA, Interior spending bill amendments Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Coast Guard suspends search for missing Ohio plane 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.”