Sen. Ted Cruz takes bipartisan role in shepherding FAA bill

WASHINGTON — It was a new role for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He shepherded a $105 billion bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration for five years. It was the first time in Cruz’s 12-year-career where he had been a floor manager for major bipartisan legislation in the Senate. This came as Cruz tries to create a more bipartisan image as he runs for reelection. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Colin Allred of Dallas, said it is an attempt to whitewash Cruz’s legislative record.

What You Need To Know

For the first time in Sen. Ted Cruz’s 12-year-career, he was a floor manager for major bipartisan legislation in the Senate and it was for a $105 billion bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration 
Cruz is trying to create a more bipartisan image as he runs for a third term in the Senate. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Colin Allred, said it is an attempt to whitewash Cruz’s legislative record
In an interview with Spectrum News, Cruz said the FAA legislation would benefit the state of Texas and the rest of the country, in part, with more funding for airports, runway safety and air traffic controllers
Cruz also commented on the pro-Palestinian protests occurring at universities and said anyone engaging in threats and violence on campus should be prosecuted and expelled

Cruz, the top Republican on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, pushed for quick passage of the FAA reauthorization bill, which addresses the safety and efficiency of air travel amid heightened scrutiny of the industry. The Senate ended up passing the legislation, despite some logjams over amendments. 

In an interview with Spectrum News, Cruz said the bipartisan legislation would benefit the state of Texas and the rest of the country. He said it directs the FAA to hire the maximum number of air traffic controllers, funds airports and addresses runway safety.

“We’ve seen several near collisions, including an Austin Bergstrom Airport, where you almost had two jets collide on the runway. This invests in technology to try to prevent that from happening,” Cruz said. 

“Aviation is so important to jobs in Texas, both in terms of the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are directly provided by aviation in Texas, but also the millions of jobs that depend on being able to get on an airplane and fly to meet your customers, fly to go to meetings,” he continued. 

Some senators, including Cruz’s Republican colleagues, have remarked that he is typically the one who participates in procedural tactics and brings up amendments that might delay the legislative process. 

“My principal role is to fight for 30 million Texans, and that’s something I do every day. Part of that is fighting against bad ideas, against bad policies that would hurt the people of Texas, and whether those policies came from Barack Obama or from Chuck Schumer or from Joe Biden,” Cruz said, when asked to respond to those who might say this bipartisan posture is being done for political reasons.  

“That gets a lot of attention leading the fight and I am certainly a conservative warrior, but you can also walk and chew gum at the same time,” Cruz continued. 

He pointed to his work on new highway infrastructure across Texas, as well as new bridges in South Texas aimed at increasing trade and commerce.

During his freshman year in the Senate, Cruz led a filibuster against the Affordable Care Act that lasted more than 21 hours, as well as a federal government shutdown shortly after. 

Cruz also voted against most of the laws pushed by President Joe Biden that garnered bipartisan support. Those include semiconductor manufacturing and infrastructure legislation, as well as the gun safety law that passed in the wake of the Uvalde massacre. 

Cruz also bashed the bipartisan Senate border deal hashed out with the White House. 

On social media, Allred, a former NFL linebacker, said “check the tape because the tape doesn’t lie.”

“Ted Cruz has been one of the most divisive senators in the entire country, if not the most divisive. In fact, you know, that’s something I think he’s been proud of that. We can go in a different direction,” Allred said in an interview last year with Spectrum News. 

The FAA reauthorization bill includes additional round-trip flights to Reagan Washington National Airport in Northern Virginia. Virginia and Maryland lawmakers have long objected to the new flight slots, arguing that the airport is already heavily trafficked and restrictive. 

Like other Texans in Congress, Cruz pushed for a direct flight from San Antonio to Reagan and said the inclusion of it in the bill is a “major victory.” San Antonio is nicknamed the Military City and Cruz noted the large active duty and veteran population.

“You look at DC Reagan, not too far from here. It is right next to the Pentagon. It is right next to Arlington Memorial Cemetery, and the community of San Antonio was really united on the benefits of a direct flight from San Antonio to DC Reagan, and that’s true of the business community. It’s true of the local community. It’s true of the elected officials,” Cruz said.

Spectrum News also asked Cruz about the pro-Palestinian protests taking place all across Texas and the country. He said he was “horrified” and that every university has an obligation to protect the safety of their students. 

“No student has a right to threaten violence against another student, whether that other student is Jewish or Palestinian or anything else. You do not have a right to threaten violence, and I believe anyone engaging (in) threats and violence on campus, they should be arrested, they should be prosecuted, they should be expelled,” Cruz said when asked how college administrations should respond. “If they’re a foreign student, they should be deported. They have no entitlement to be in the United States.” 

Cruz and other Senate Republicans on Thursday condemned the Biden administration’s decision to restrict the delivery of offensive weapons to Israel over its assault on Rafah because of concerns for civilians there. Biden said he still is committed to supplying Israel with defensive arms and capabilities.   

“Israel is targeting Hamas terrorists, trying to take out the people who committed mass murder. There is no military on the face of the planet that goes to greater lengths to avoid civilian casualties than the Israeli military. Now, there have been some Palestinian civilian casualties to be sure, but the reason there have been is because Hamas wants there to be Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas deliberately embeds itself in civilian populations,” Cruz said. 

“It’s time that we see some Democrats actually have the courage to stand up and say, ‘we’re going to stand with Israel against the terrorists that want to murder, not just Israelis, but want to murder Americans as well,'” he said.