If you thought House Speaker John Boehner has had a miserable time trying to govern, wait until you see what incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is about to deal with. The Kentucky Republican achieved his lifelong dream on Tuesday night, and is positioned to move into Sen. Harry Reid's ornate suite in the Capitol when the next Congress convenes on Jan. 3. But it is likely to be a short honeymoon.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the influential tea party firebrand, is poised to make life very difficult for the old-school Kentuckian by harnessing the power of the GOP base's rightward drift to wage fierce battles with President Barack Obama. Cruz telegraphed his strategy in a post-election interview Tuesday night on Fox News, calling on Republicans to do whatever it takes to repeal Obamacare and and prevent Obama's upcoming executive actions on immigration.
"The two biggest issues nationwide were, number one, stopping the train wreck that is Obamacare; number two, stopping the president from illegally granting amnesty," Cruz said.
"Cruz is gonna be using his national base to put relentless pressure on McConnell," said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar with the American Enterprise Institute. "I've never seen a guy so despised by a vast majority of his caucus — they hate Cruz. They see Cruz as completely out for himself. But let's face it if he's out there inciting the base, and talk radio guys and blog people ... that's going to be difficult for them," Ornstein said.
In two short years as a senator, Cruz has proven very influential, most notably when he led Republicans into a government shutdown in 2013 against the better judgment of Boehner and McConnell. Though he has since calmed somewhat, the Post reports that he plans to reemerge from his shell.