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Cruz says he'll vote for GOP coronavirus bill

Cruz says he'll vote for GOP coronavirus bill
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (R-Texas) said on Wednesday that he will support a GOP coronavirus proposal — a win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (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?”

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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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci to Chelsea Clinton: The 'phenomenal amount of hostility' I face is 'astounding' GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message Fox host claims Fauci lied to Congress, calls for prosecution MORE (R-Ky.) has signaled he is a no, but other Republicans including Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyConcerns grow over China's Taiwan plans GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack MORE (R-Mo.) and Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission MORE (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.