Senate criticizes Ted Cruz’s big effort to be serious

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

First, Cruz first Fox News ‘Tucker Carlson, claimed that he mistakenly used the word “terrorists” to describe the rioters on January 6. In fact, he used the word at least frequently. 17 other times in a year.

Then there was the January 6 conspiracy theory that Cruz was promoting about a former Marine named Ray Epps, who right-wing publications suggest is working as an undercover FBI agent. In fact, this theory is fake news.

Now, Cruz’s most serious policy proposal in Congress this time around has become another partisan scoring contest, its own scoring contest – only with international significance this time.

For months, Cruz has been trying to get sanctions passed on Nord Stream 2, a long-sought natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. It’s an issue on which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have spoken out; many see the pipeline as a gift to Russian President Putin and want to prevent its existence.



Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to reporters before attending the weekly Republican policy luncheon at the Senate on Capitol Hill on January 11, 2022.

Chip Somodevilla

But Cruz’s most serious campaign on Capitol Hill this year — passing a bill that would enact sanctions on entities operating on Nord Stream 2 — is sure to end in a failed vote. . His bill was poised to be rejected on Thursday, with enough senators already voting to reject the bill, though the vote has yet to close hours after it began. The bill needed 60 votes to pass and had 43 no votes.

With Russia Amassing hundreds of thousands of troops near the Ukrainian border, politicians have begun to grow impatient with a modified approach from the Biden administration to using the gas pipeline as leverage against Putin. And yet, Cruz and many other Republicans refused to adjust their positions.

The Biden Administration’s Efforts to Get Putin to Back Out Invasion of Ukraine Having been stuck in the second step for weeks now, Putin has stationed troops along the border while denying that he has invasion ambitions and making all kinds of demands that the European authorities and allies will never accept. response hours.

With Putin seemingly vacant, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has emerged as one of the main levers the United States has to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine. And although many Republicans and Democrats have previously supported blocking the gas pipeline, most Democrats see that the situation has changed and believe Cruz’s proposal will now do more harm than good.

“It will not stop Russia from invading Ukraine. In fact, it would do the exact opposite,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) said of Cruz’s law on Thursday. “It will make completion more likely and it will be a gift to Russia, dividing us from our European allies at a time when we need to unite.”

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) released a competition bill this week, and its supporters say it’s a sensible choice. It would give the administration more headroom in trying to keep the pipeline on Putin’s head. It will label the pipeline as a tool of “malign influence” by the Russian government and will require the government to review “all existing and appropriate measures” to prevent it from “working”, including including sanctions.

Menendez’s bill would also require the State Department to reassess whether a waiver of existing sanctions “remains in the best interest of the national security of the United States, particularly in light of the Russian Federation’s construction build troops along the Ukrainian border.”

The White House is backing Menendez’s bill because Cruz’s bill would eliminate any attempt to gain leverage over Putin, a senior administration official told The Daily Beast.

“That’s leverage for the West, because if Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flowing through that pipeline, he might not want to risk invading Ukraine,” the senior administration official said. “If sanctions were to be imposed right now… it would be a little considered in [Russia’s] accumulate. The deterrent potential of sanctions or pipeline closures will be lost. “

Meanwhile, the White House sees Cruz’s proposal as just another political ploy that could hinder diplomacy.

White House Department of National Security spokeswoman Emily Horne told The Daily Beast that Cruz’s legislation would not “resist Russian aggression or defend Ukraine.”

“Instead, it would undermine our efforts to deter Russia and remove the leverage that the United States, as well as our allies and partners, possess at this point in time to score major points. at home,” Horne said in a statement. “And the time will come when we need to stand in close solidarity with our European partners, including Germany. Does not make any sense.”

While Cruz said the willingness of Democrats to support Menendez’s bill was a prime example of them giving up their beliefs to return to party lines, Murphy attributed Cruz’s efforts to disrupt the Nord Stream 2 vote is emblematic of Republicans just trying to seal victory for the Democrats no matter what — even in the midst of a breakthrough with Putin.

“It aligns with the GOP’s approach to foreign policy under Biden. They’re rooted in not hurting Biden,” Murphy said in one tweet.

However, the issue is not dry for Democratic lawmakers. Democrats have long opposed letting this route go, and many see it as a geopolitical victory for Putin that will boost his influence across Europe – hence why one Democrats backed Cruz’s bill again Thursday afternoon.

With Menendez’s law, however, Democrats can vote on a bill with an air of punitiveness that doesn’t deal Biden a political blow.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said in a statement. “This act maintains that resolve without undermining the diplomatic progress being made.”

Shaheen added that Putin’s “escalating behavior” against Ukraine required “we develop our response.”

“We cannot use yesterday’s plan for the crises we face today,” she said.

But that seems to be Cruz’s correct solution. He tried unit Nord Stream 2 since at least 2020 and he is so adamant about blocking the gas pipeline online that he has blocking votes about candidates for the State Department for months on the issue, threatening to keep them until a Nord Stream 2 sanctions vote takes place.

In the end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed and gave Cruz his vote, in part to put the nominees in their roles. Even so, in true Cruz style, all the Texas senator could do was insist on being dealt with a loss.

Russia, of course, has maintained an interest in pursuing Ukraine, and analysts are wary of suggesting that a sanctions on Nord Stream 2 – whenever it happens – would have a huge impact on Putin’s calculation.

But knowing what Russia is doing is not an easy task. In several rounds of meetings this week, officials appeared with various readings of what Putin was thinking. Earlier this week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated that “we have no intention of invading Ukraine.”

And just days later, Russia will not commit to de-escalation during the NATO-Russia Council meeting, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday. Senate criticizes Ted Cruz’s big effort to be serious

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