The Passion Of The Cruz

Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • IT'S THE QUESTION ON EVERYONE'S MIND: Could the country be pushed to the brink of another shutdown when government funding runs out in January? Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who pushed the strategy to tie government funding to defunding President Obama's health care law, wouldn't rule out revisiting it in the coming months. "I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare," Cruz said when asked by ABC's JON KARL whether he would rule out another shutdown. "The test that matters, Jon, is are we doing anything for all the people that are getting hurt from Obamacare?" Cruz added that he wouldn't "nail down all sorts of future tactical decisions," but he made it clear that Obamacare would be at the center of his strategy. "The U.S. Senate is not concerned about all the people out of a job, all the people in part-time work, all the people whose health insurance premiums are skyrocketing, all the people who are losing their health insurance, and that's happening because of Obamacare," Cruz told ABC News.
  • NO THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND: Sen. Cruz doesn't have many friends in Washington these days and he says he doesn't need 'em, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP notes. "There's an old saying that, 'Politics, it ain't beanbag.' And, you know, I'm not serving in office because I desperately needed 99 new friends in the U.S. Senate," Cruz told ABC's JON KARL. Cruz has amped up his own rhetoric against Senate Republicans, accusing them of "bombing our own troops" in a conservative radio interview this week. And he made it clear that he thinks his Republican colleagues in the Senate are responsible for sabotaging his effort to tie funding for the government to an effort to defund or delay the health care law. ABC's full interview with Cruz will air Sunday on "This Week."
  • MCCONNELL'S MULE: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who helped broker this week's deal, made it clear yesterday that he would not entertain a second government shutdown. "One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there's no education in the second kick of a mule. The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid 1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days," McConnell told The Hill. "There is no education in the second kick of a mule. There will not be a government shutdown." He added, "I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is."

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': As a debt default is averted at the 11th hour and the federal government re-opens its doors, we go one-on-one with House Democratic Leader NANCY PELOSI and former Florida Gov. JEB BUSH about the budget battles in Washington, only on "This Week" Sunday. And our powerhouse roundtable tackles all the week's politics, including what comes next in the debate over the budget. Check the "This Week" page for full guest listings. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY:

-MATTHEW DOWD TAKES THE 'THIS WEEK' QUIZ: Find out the ABC News political analyst's pet peeve, favorite movie and more - including the Democrat and Republican he thinks are most likely to run for president in 2016 (the answers may surprise you).


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Sen. Ted Cruz told ABC News yesterday that he doesn't need "99 new friends" in the Senate. That's just as well, but the problem for Republicans who see Cruz's actions these past few weeks as problematic is that he doesn't need any friends in Washington to do it all over again. Cruz is deriving his power - and the power of his convictions - well outside of Washington. Like Sarah Palin before him, efforts to shun and sideline him figure to only make him stronger, at least in the near future. Cruz's reaction to the series of events he helped trigger speaks to the split inside the Republican Party: He sees victory in the process and defeat in the outcome. Most of his erstwhile friends see a disastrous process and the only hopeful signs in the way it came to an end.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: Any sense of satisfaction inside the West Wing over prevailing in the government shutdown fight with Republicans is quickly being eclipsed by a deepening reality: The implementation of Obamacare is riddled with more than a series of start-up glitches, but rather what administration officials, Congressional aides and industry experts are starting to fear is a systematic failure. And this criticism is coming from those who support the intent of the new law. President Obama has expressed frustration, but aides concede it will take more than frustration to fix what was always intended to be the signature initiative of his second term and an essential piece of his legacy. Perhaps it's time to seek a lifeline from his old team that helped him reach the White House and win re-election who left him for the private sector.

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: Lesson learned: In Washington, the key is setting your sights low. At least that's the approach four top Congressional negotiators appear to be taking in the new round of budget talks that kicked off yesterday as the deal to re-open the government and avoid default kicked in. Leading the effort are Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget committee and its ranking Democrat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, along with Sen. Patty Murray, the chairman of the Senate Budget committee and its ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions. Ryan said yesterday that they are working "to find common ground to get a budget agreement." And, as The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman and Jackie Calmes wrote this morning, "By definition, common ground suggests no grand bargain, which would require a much more difficult trade-off where they fundamentally differ." The committee's Dec. 13 deadline to come up with a plan doesn't really come with any teeth. And like the rest of his colleagues, Van Hollen stressed that these talks don't really come with any guarantees either: "Nobody can guarantee success but what we can say is that if we don't make the effort, and get together and talk, that would guarantee failure."


OBAMA: AMERICANS 'FED UP' WITH 'STRATEGY OF BRINKSMANSHIP'. As the federal government whirred back to life, President Obama yesterday lamented the harm caused by the political "spectacle," saying the 16-day shutdown and the threat of default "inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy," ABC's MARY BRUCE and DEVIN DWYER report. "The American people are completely fed up with Washington," the president said in a statement at the White House. "At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we've got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what?" The president repeatedly took stabs at the House Republicans who used the shutdown and threat of default to try and extract political concessions. "Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we're strong," he said. "But probably nothing has done more damage to America's credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we've seen these past several weeks. "It's encouraged our enemies, it's emboldened our competitors, and it's depressed our friends, who look to us for steady leadership."

-WHAT'S NEXT? The president said he would be pushing action on three priorities in the coming months: the budget, immigration overhaul and a farm bill. "Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now, and we could get them done by the end of the year, if our focus is on what's good for the American people. And that's just the big stuff," he said. "Let's work together to make government work better instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse. That's not what the founders of this nation envisioned when they gave us the gift of self-government," he said.

BUDGET GURUS BEGIN NEXT PHASE OF FEDERAL SPENDING BATTLE. With the ink barely dry from President Obama's signature on legislation to end the shutdown, the top four congressional authorities on the budget kicked off the next phase of negotiations with a bipartisan breakfast at the Capitol yesterday, according to ABC's JOHN PARKINSON. Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, the chairman of the Senate Budget committee, joined together with their respective counterparts, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget committee. Afterwards, Ryan, the former Republican nominee for vice president in 2012, said the budget gurus "had a very good conversation" about how the budget adversaries can reach common ground. "We want to look for ways to find common ground to get a budget agreement," Ryan, R-Wis., said. "Our goal is to do good for the American people, to get this debt under control, to do smart deficit reduction, and to do things that we think can grow the economy and get people back to work. "Those are our shared goals." Murray, who served as the Democratic co-chair of the failed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in 2011, agreed it was a "good conversation."

HOUSE STENOGRAPHER CREDITS 'HOLY SPIRIT' FOR RANT AGAINST CONGRESS. The House stenographer who erupted into a verbal tirade against members of Congress in the midst of the vote to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling said the "holy spirit" told her to do it, ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE notes. "For the past 2 and 1/2 weeks, the Holy Spirit has been waking me up in the middle of the night and preparing me (through my reluctance and doubt) to deliver a message in the House Chamber," the stenographer, Dianne Reidy, said in a written statement to Fox News. "That is what I did last night." Reidy's husband, Dan, told Fox that his wife "is a sweet, level-headed wonderful woman of God." "I am proud of her," Dan Reidy told Fox. In an interview with the New York Post on Thursday, Reidy reportedly said, she's "never felt better" and that she plans to return to work next week. "I'm glad that I fulfilled God's mission for me, absolutely," she said, according to the Post. "It lifted a tremendous burden. It was a very hard burden to carry as you can imagine." The comments are the first clues about why Reidy shouted into a microphone during Wednesday night's vote, an act that led to her forcible removal from the chamber of the House of Representatives. The stenographer, who helps keep the record of the proceedings of the House, was interviewed by officers before being transported to a hospital "for evaluation," U.S. Capitol Police told ABC News.

CAPITOL HILL'S OHIO CLOCK TICKS AGAIN. Remember that clock in the U.S. Capitol that shut down during the shutdown? Well, yesterday, the Ohio Clock came back to life, ticking again for the first time in at least a week, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ writes. Its hands were frozen in time during the shutdown because the Senate Curator's Office employee responsible for winding it was furloughed. But with federal employees back on the job on Thursday after President Obama signed a bill to re-open the government, Richard Doerner, a museum specialist in the Senate, was back at his post. Doerner opened up the glass on the face of the giant antique clock and moved the minute hand ever so slightly to 12:18. He then climbed down his small step ladder and took an ornate cover off the front of the antique clock to examine whether the pendulum was moving properly. Doerner normally winds up the nearly 200-year-old clock each Monday, but last week, the time stopped at 12:15 since he was not here to perform the function.

WHY NO ONE 'WON' THE SHUTDOWN. Just after midnight Thursday morning, President Obama signed a bill to end the 16-daygovernment shutdown and extended the debt limit just in time to avert a fiscal crisis. It was good news for hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees who began returning to work Thursday morning. But as the smoke begins to clear, there's no question: There were far more losers than winners in the shutdown of 2013. And its long-term effects on the nation's economy, tourism, veterans and the country's most vulnerable Americans definitely left a mark. For those who think the shutdown wasn't all that bad, think again. Here are some of the worst consequences of the past two weeks, courtesy of ABC's JOAN E. GREVE, NICKI ROSSOLL and ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES:

'PRODUCTIVE' US-IRAN TALKS - BUT NO BREAKTHROUGHS. In what Obama administration officials called the most significant progress in years, Iran and six world powers concluded the first round of talks on Iran's nuclear program since Iranian president Hassan Rouhani ascended to power in August, ABC's DANA HUGHES notes. The talks, which ended Wednesday night in Geneva, were "productive" and useful, despite the lack of any major breakthroughs, U.S. and European said. "I've been doing this now for about two years, and I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before," a senior Obama administration official told reporters in Geneva. The discussions took place in English, which had never occurred before, the official noted. Senior U.S. and Iranian officials also met on their own, without their European counterparts, something that hasn't happened in four years. All parties agreed to meet again in three weeks.


OBAMA TO NAME JEH JOHNSON NEXT HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY. President Obama is expected to nominate former Pentagon lawyer Jeh Johnson as the next Homeland Security secretary, ABC's MIKE LEVINE and MARTHA RADDATZ report. The Department of Homeland Security has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for six weeks, and from the start some Republicans were calling on the administration to "swiftly" nominate a new secretary. The White House has largely ignored such calls, as DHS has moved forward with top-agenda items even through the government shutdown. But now an announcement nominating Johnson is expected Friday afternoon, sources told ABC News. "The president is selecting Johnson because he is one the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders, having served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world," a senior administration official said. "During his tenure at the Department of Defense he was known for his sound judgment and counsel." For most of Obama's first term, Johnson served as the Defense Department's general counsel, reviewing and approving military operations before they were sent to the Defense Secretary and president for final decisions.


@amyewalter: Tired of DC dysfunction? Wanna change Washington? Start by voting in primaries.

@JoeBrettell: I wish Congress worked this way. Sadly, most Members will fight for hometown programs regardless of effectiveness …

@joshtpm: "Cruz is smart. He has always been able to talk down to people. Hes now in the Senate. People are as smart as he is." …

@TheFix: The @MaggiePolitico piece on GOP donors dissatisfaction that everyone needs to read.

@zengerle: The reporting in this shutdown tick-tock actually is kind of awe-inspiring. cc @ErikWemple …