Ted Cruz, House Whip

So you want to know how much John Boehner’s authority has been eroded in the House? Check out this report from the Boswell of Republican ideological warfare, National Review‘s Robert Costa:

On a Thursday conference call, a group of House conservatives consulted with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas about how to respond to the leadership’s fiscal strategy. Sources who were on the call say Cruz strongly advised them to oppose it, and hours later, Speaker John Boehner’s plan fizzled.

It’s the latest example of Cruz leading the House’s right flank.

This is some genuine intrigue involving a massive breach of congressional etiquette by Cruz. And it’s also just weird: House and Senate members rarely deal with each other directly. They inhabit different realms that do not usually intersect.

But any way you slice it, it looks bad for the House leadership:

Leadership sources, for their part, are startled by Cruz’s attempt to shape House strategy and work against the speaker. They knew he’d oppose Boehner’s playbook, but they didn’t expect him to huddle with conservatives and ask them to ignore it. So, Cruz’s meetings have made him a key House player, but they’ve worsened his already-fraught relationship with the leadership.

Something tells me Cruz doesn’t mind that at all. Such intraparty outlaw behavior is yet another thing he has in common with his look-alike bullyboy predecessor from back in the day, Joe McCarthy.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.