Cruz says he’ll vote for GOP coronavirus bill
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Wednesday that he will support a GOP coronavirus proposal — a win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) who is working to unify the caucus behind the bill.
“Well I expect to vote for the more targeted relief bill. …I expect that we will get all or virtually all of the Republicans,” Cruz said during an interview with CNBC.
Cruz, a firebrand conservative who has at times clashed with leadership, was a vocal critic of the previous $1.1 trillion package offered by Senate Republicans in late July. In a clash that quickly went public, he asked his Republican colleagues during a closed-door lunch “what in the hell are we doing?”
But McConnell has been working to lock down GOP votes, including Cruz’s, ahead of a Thursday vote on a scaled-down, smaller coronavirus relief bill estimated to be worth roughly half of the original Republican bill.
The GOP bill won’t get the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate. But Republican leadership wants, and appears poised to get, 51 votes, a stark turnaround from McConnell’s previous prediction that up to 20 of his 53-member caucus wouldn’t support any additional COVID-19 relief.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has signaled he is a no, but other Republicans including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) haven’t said how they will vote.
The GOP plan includes a $300 per week federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding, $105 billion for schools and an additional $16 billion for coronavirus testing.
It also includes some concessions to conservatives and fiscal hawks, including measures to recoup billions in unspent money from the $2.2 trillion bill passed in March.
The legislation also includes two years of education-related tax credits sought by Cruz related to school choice. Cruz touted its inclusion on Wednesday, telling CNBC that he was a “passionate, passionate” advocate for school choice.
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