Ted Cruz and Harry Reid are not necessarily the best of friends, but the junior senator from Texas did invite the Senate Majority Leader to visit him in the Lone Star State and join him for a sightseeing trip to the Mexican border.
"Harry Reid lives in the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.," Cruz, a first-term Republican, said on Fox News Sunday after hearing the Nevada Democrat declare that the border with Mexico is secure. "And I'm sure from his perspective, the border seems secure." Cruz then offered his Senate colleague a closer look.
"I would invite Harry Reid to come with me down to Texas and see the border," Cruz said "On the border, we are seeing the opposite of following the law. The border is not secured; 90,000 children are expected to come into this country illegally this year and Harry Reid says the border is secure?"
But why would Harry Reid want to go to Texas to see the facts on the ground? At the Ritz-Carlton or on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Reid lives and works in an insular world where he defines his own reality and makes his own law. The border is secure because Harry Reid has declared it so. He speaks with authority, and not as the Senate Republicans.
"With his strong-armed change to the filibuster rule and an iron-fisted control of the Senate floor, Senator Harry Reid has engaged in the greatest consolidation of congressional power since Newt Gingrich ruled the House," the New York Times reported early this year. Reid has railed about House Republicans refusing to take up the Senate-passed immigration reform bill. Indeed, he has done such an effective job of excoriating Republicans for delaying and obstructing legislation that the major news media rarely take note of how Reid has used the arcane rules of the Senate to deep-six bills that have bipartisan support. Approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and an amendment to repeal the ObamaCare tax on medical devices are among the legislative initiatives that Reid has prevented from coming to the Senate floor for a vote.
These are not just Republican proposals. The medical devices repeal was an amendment offered by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. New York Democrat Kristen Gillibrand's proposal to change the way the military handles sexual assault cases, co-sponsored by Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky and offered as an amendment to the defense-appropriations bill in December, died without a vote when Reid ruled no amendments would be allowed. Even "moderate" Republicans who often vote with the Democrats have complained of Reid's strong-arm tactics.
"I'm just kind of fed up," Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski told the Times. "He's a leader. Why is he not leading this Senate? Why is he choosing to ignore the fact that he has a minority party that he needs to work with, that actually has some decent ideas? Why is he bringing down the institution of the Senate?"
Reid regularly inveighs against his Republican colleagues for wasting time on votes for defunding ObamaCare that they know will never pass in the Democratic Senate. His favorite villains are the billionaire Koch brothers, who pour filthy lucre into conservative coffers. Yet Reid turned over the Senate floor earlier this year to Democrats conducting an all-night talkathon about "climate change."
"The marathon session is not technically a filibuster in part because there is no legislation under debate," noted USA Today. Perhaps the overnight show was really intended for an audience of one on America's "Left Coast."
"But as they rev up for the midterm elections," the LA Times noted in its report on the "Talkathon," "Democrats are heeding the call of California billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged $100 million to back candidates with a program to curb climate change." Whoever said talk is cheap?
So when Reid said during Senate debate over the border crisis that "Republicans would rather hold these kids ransom," no one was surprised. "Had we done comprehensive immigration reform, we wouldn't be having this issue," he later added at a press conference. But how would a reform of immigration law have prevented these kids from Central America — some 90,000 of them since last September — from reaching and breaching the Texas border? Many of them were brought by drug smugglers and human traffickers, the kind of travelers not generally known for their respect for the law. Beyond that, Cruz identified the problem with the Senate's so-called Gang of Eight bill — crafted by four Republicans and four Democrats — that would remove penalties and offer a "path to citizenship" for immigrants here illegally.
"The Gang of Eight bill is one of the causes of this problem," Cruz said, "because what the kids are saying is, they're coming because they believe they'll get amnesty; part of the Gang of Eight bill was promising them amnesty." The Texas Republican also put his finger on the president's announcement in 2012 that immigrants who have grown up here after having been brought here illegally as children would be allowed to stay.
"If you look at the history of this issue, in 2011 there were roughly 6,000 children apprehended coming in illegally," Cruz said. "Then in 2012 President Obama unilaterally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people who were here illegally, who entered as children. The direct foreseeable consequence of that was the number of unaccompanied children skyrocketed so that this year the Obama administration is estimating 90,000 kids will come, next year 145,000. That's up from just 6,000 three years ago."
Facts, indeed, are stubborn things, but Harry Reid is more than a match for them. The numbers do not impress him and the chaos in the border communities does not reach him. Harry Reid has spoken. "The border is secure."
At the Ritz-Carlton.