ELDER PATRIOT – Ted Cruz’s changing position on first supporting and then voting against Fast-Track legislation that gave President Obama sole negotiating rights to write trade treaties is enlightening about the presidential candidate on multiple fronts.
Cruz’s initial support of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is troubling and stands in direct contradiction to his claim of being a constitutional adherent. According to Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution instructs that treaties are negotiated by the president and then sent to the Senate where a two-thirds vote is required for passage:
“He [the President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”
But, the intent of Fast Track was to circumvent the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage of the final wording of the treaty.
Approving the treaty as it was finally present by Obama, after all, would’ve been very difficult for Republicans to explain in an election year. Instead, Fast Track was constructed by Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell as a procedural buffer prior to requiring Republican senators to cast their votes directly on the pending treaty. With Fast Track they’d only be voting on the granting of authority not on the actual treaty that Obama would later present to them.
This meant that once Fast Track passed, the Senate would have to override the president’s final deal by a two-thirds vote against it. Since Democrats comprise 44% of the Senate anything Obama came back with was assured of approval. McConnell and Republican leadership had essentially turned the approval process upside down in order to help Obama pass the trade treaty that every Republican presidential candidate ran from during last night’s debate.
Cruz knew this, as did every conservative paying attention to the process, but he decided to join Paul Ryan in penning an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that endorsed giving these unprecedented new powers to President Obama.
Cruz later changed his support of Fast Track because as he wrote, “TPA in this Congress has become enmeshed in corrupt Washington back room deal-making, along with serious concerns that it would open up the potential for sweeping changes in our laws that trade agreements typically do not include.”
Cruz finally got it right by voting against Fast Track but for the wrong reason. For a man who insists on citing his conservative credentials at every opportunity and consistently drapes himself in the Constitution he should have stood steadfast against the procedural chicanery that violated the very intent of the Constitution’s clause regarding the Senate’s oversight of the treaty approval process.
The timing of Cruz’s shift is also worth noting since it came at the end of June last year after Donald Trump had declared his candidacy by lambasting our immigration policies and our nation’s unfathomable trade imbalance. Was Senator Cruz reacting to Donald Trump’s accurate, if bombastic, assessment of U.S. trade deals that have crippled America’s Middle-Class? Mr. Cruz, after all, is a lifelong politician.
The voters will ultimately decide about Mr. Cruz but, contrary to Cruz’s assertion that Donald Trump’s supporters suffer from “low information,” it seems the more we know about Mr. Cruz the less acceptable he becomes.