Ted Cruz is tired of waiting, and of everyone else “exploring.”
Cruz, the Tea Party champion and freshman senator from Texas, plans to announce on Monday that he will run for president in 2016, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Cruz is expected to announce during a convocation ceremony at Liberty University in Virginia, a venue that underscores his attempts to reach out to young people. But Cruz has a fiery political reputation, one that has become divisive in Washington and throughout the country. His insistence on extracting meaningful concessions from President Obama on his health-care law in 2013 helped lead to the first federal government shutdown in 16 years.
Here’s where would-be President Cruz fits in on the important issues of 2016.
Like in the game of chicken in 2013 that led to a shutdown, Cruz played a starring role late last year and early this year in the Republican fight against Obama’s executive steps designed to shield many undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Cruz was in a conservative bloc of lawmakers that urged party leaders to not pass a bill to fund the federal government without stripping funding for Obama’s executive orders late last year. When the fight shifted early this year to just funding of the Department of Homeland Security, Cruz continued to press party leaders to require that the funding be stripped.
“Leadership's current plan is a mistake,” he said a few days before the funding eventually passed. “Congress is obliged to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in President Obama's lawlessness, and that includes both our confirmation authority over nominees and the power of the purse.”
The issue has turned decidedly partisan during the past two years. But Cruz has said he does support some form of immigration reform, though he opposes a path to citizenship for those who crossed into the U.S. illegally.
“I have said many times that I want to see common-sense immigration reform pass,” he told The New York Times in 2013. “I think most Americans want to see the problem fixed.”
But during the immigration debate in the Senate in 2013, he said an emphasis should be placed on border security. He said the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill would “perpetuate tragedy” along the border, and he introduced an amendment to strip language about a path to citizenship. He said during his 2012 Senate campaign that he wanted to “triple” the size of border patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border. He clearly has the potential to push other candidates to the right on those issues.
Cruz opposes using public funds for abortion, and he supported the effort of companies like Hobby Lobby, Inc., which successfully challenged the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most employers include contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans.
“A tremendous victory, not only for Hobby Lobby, but for all those being forced to violate their deeply held convictions as a result of this Administration's assault on religious liberty,” he called the Supreme Court’s decision last year.
He has also supported former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s efforts to restrict most abortions after 20 weeks and set tighter safety standards on the clinics in the state. That bill became a lightning-rod issue in Texas and vaulted former gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis into the limelight.
Cruz has said he personally believes that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman. But he personally supports leaving the question of gay marriage up to individual states.
In February, along with 11 other Republican senators, he reintroduced the State Defense of Marriage Act, which would relinquish the definition of marriage to a state-by-state basis and restrict the federal government from imposing a universal law and take judges out of the equation.
“I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states,” Cruz said in a statement then. “The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens.”
Cruz has recently shifted his position slightly on the issue of legalizing marijuana. At the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, he said states should have the right to legalize the drug if they so desire. But he added he doesn’t agree with that policy personally.
That was a different position than he had a year ago, when he criticized the Obama administration for failing to interfere with changes in drug laws in the states of both Colorado and Washington.
Cruz has been highly critical of the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, and he has voted to support projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline. He has called the EPA a proponent of “radical environmentalism,” and he blasted EPA rules that require carbon-emitting facilities to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
"These rules will not only drive up electric bills, but also threaten the reliability of the nation's electric grid and make it harder for American manufacturers to compete in the world market,” Cruz said.
Cruz voted in support of the bill that would have precipitated the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He has also introduced legislation that would, among other things, leave the decision of fracking up to individual states, exclude greenhouse gases from being regulated under federal law, and removing some federal regulations to building and upgrading existing pipelines.
Cruz has been perhaps the most vocal opponent of the law colloquially known as “Obamacare.” And one of his biggest applause lines with conservative crowds still comes when he says that “every single word” of the law should be repealed.
The solution after repeal is more ambiguous. Along with four other Republican Senators earlier this month, Cruz introduced the “Health Care Choice Act,” which would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance allow people to purchase plans across state lines.
Cruz has notably broken from more dovish foreign-policy types in his party, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and tried to carve out a more hawkish approach to his foreign-policy agenda.
He vehemently opposes the administration’s current efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its contested nuclear-energy program, and supported Republican leadership’s efforts to go around the White House earlier this month and bring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. to address Congress.
He has said he’s “somewhere between” the dovish Paul and the extremely hawkish Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) on matters of foreign policy, but he began distancing himself from Paul about a year ago.
“I’m a big fan of Rand Paul. He and I are good friends. But I don’t agree with him on foreign policy,” Cruz said. “I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force abroad. But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did. The United States has a responsibility to defend our values.”
Speaking of Cuba — Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant who emigrated to the United States four years before the U.S. implemented a strict trade embargo on the country.
Cruz has played up that background in blasting the administration’s shift in policy, and he has called the Obama administration’s efforts to restore diplomatic relations with the island country a “tragic mistake.”
“We have seen how previous Obama administration attempts at rapprochement with rogue regimes like Russia and Iran have worked out, with our influence diminished and our enemies emboldened,” Cruz said in a December statement. “Now they are revisiting this same disastrous policy with the Castros, blind to the fact that they are being played by brutal dictators whose only goal is maintaining power. And if history be our guide, the Castros will exploit that power to undermine America and oppress the Cuban people. First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba – this is one more very, very bad deal brokered by the Obama Administration.”
Cruz does not support lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.