| WASHINGTON, July 24
WASHINGTON, July 24 Republican presidential
candidate Ted Cruz ripped into his party's establishment on
Friday, calling Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell a liar
during an unusual public attack on the floor of the Senate.
Amid intense maneuvering over an ambitious $340 billion
transportation bill, Cruz railed that McConnell and the Senate's
new Republican majority were serving the interests of big money
lobbyists and corporations, because of a move to offer an
amendment to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Cruz, a fiery first-term Senator who helped shut down the
federal government in 2013, is among 16 presidential candidates
vying for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He has
also used his Senate perch to try and gain traction among voters
by criticizing what he calls "Supreme Court activism" over gay
marriage and Obamacare.
He said McConnell assured him months ago at a meeting of
Republican senators that there would be no deal to revive the
U.S. export credit agency's charter, which expired June 30. The
measure now expected to come before the Senate on Sunday has
substantial bipartisan support.
In rhetoric tinged with Biblical overtones, the Texas
Republican said McConnell denied three times "like St. Peter"
that there was a deal to bring Ex-Im bank to a vote.
"What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that
not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told
the press over and over and over again was a simple lie," Cruz
"We now know that when the majority leader looks us in the
eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say
things that he knows are false."
The incendiary outburst, unusual in the cordial atmosphere
of the Senate, came less than two weeks before the first
televised Republican debate, in which the mud-slinging mogul
Donald Trump could take center stage.
The tirade also reflected heightened tensions as the
campaign trail heats up, as well as trouble ahead for Congress
with major tax-and-spending challenges coming in September.
Cruz accused the Republican-controlled Senate generally of
ignoring the interests of voters and listening instead to "the
lobbyists on K Street ... big money and big corporations."
McConnell's office had no immediate comment.
Days ahead of a long August recess, the Senate was working
to pass legislation to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund,
which pays for about half the country's transportation projects
and is on track to run out of money.
The ambitious bipartisan Senate bill to provide three years
of funding for America's roads, bridges and rail systems was
getting loaded down with unrelated amendments.
McConnell is trying to advance the legislation by allowing
amendments popular to each side. For instance: repeal of
Obamacare for Republicans; for Democrats, reauthorization of
Ex-Im Bank, which helps U.S. exporters.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin
Drawbaugh and David Gregorio)