Sen. Ted Cruz has yet to prove himself capable of achieving much in the U.S. Senate, the leader of one of the most powerful business trade groups in the country said today.
“My view is, he hasn’t got the votes to do what he needs to do,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. “Then what does history show: then after a while he’ll start talking to people about how to get done what he wants to get done instead of telling everybody how he’s going to get it done.”
The Chamber, which has put millions of dollars behind its support of many Republicans in the House and the Senate, has long dismissed the push to try to undo President Obama’s health care law, preferring to focus on fixing parts that they believe are unworkable. Donohue said plainly “there’s no way you’re going to get rid of that bill.”
Although Cruz has gained national prominence in recent weeks because of his push to defund or delay the law, he has only been in Washington for 10 months and Donohue indicated that the Texas senator doesn’t have much of a relationship with the chamber.
“I don’t know Senator Cruz. And we’re all getting to watch him,” Donohue said. “I sort of think about him as a tennis player. If you’re going to rush the net all the time, you better have a lot of motion to the left and the right and he hasn’t proved that to me yet.”
Cruz’s office did not respond directly to Donohue’s comments but reiterated the Senator’s commitment to defunding Obamacare.
“Sen. Cruz will always work to defend the interests of the Texans who elected him to the Senate and who stand behind his effort to bring relief to all Americans from Obamacare,” said Cruz spokesman Catherine Frazier.
The Chamber says it represents “the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions.”
Its chief lobbyist, Bruce Josten, said outside groups such as Heritage Action and Club for Growth, which have financially supported and lobbied Congress to pursue shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, likely have to answer to their donors for their failure.
“At the Chamber, if we set out a false goal to raise a lot of money from our members and deliver complete failure you know what I usually get? A resignation letter,” said Josten, who is the chamber’s vice president of government affairs. “Very seriously. Any other association or the unions, by the way, you couldn’t survive pulling that.”
At the same time, chamber CEO Donohue said Chamber officials are still waiting to see “what the circumstances are” in 2014 before they decide how they will direct their financial support. The Chamber spent more than $35 million on federal elections in 2012.
It will not, however, support Democratic control of the House of Representatives, Donohue said.
“Given a choice,” he said, “I would not like to see this administration with the White House, the Senate and the House.”
This post has been updated with comment from Sen. Ted Cruz’s office.