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Ted Cruz bipartisan action FAA reauthorization bill

Ted Cruz, bipartisan warrior?

In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sounded a lot like the GOP leaders he’s spent the better part of his decade-plus in the Senate bashing.

The Texas Republican, who’s about to be the floor manager for a major bipartisan bill for the first time in his career, stood up during the Senate GOP lunch to urge his colleagues to hasten final passage of the five-year FAA reauthorization bill, hailing it as a significant bipartisan feat.

According to multiple attendees, Cruz said he favors a “robust” amendment process for the bill, but then went on to discourage his colleagues from offering amendments.

Cruz listed specific requests from individual GOP senators that ended up in the final product, which was negotiated with the House. This is how Cruz framed it: “Senator X, you got Y in the bill.” And so on.

It’s a pitch that sounds a lot like one that his party’s leadership would deliver when they’re trying to get must-pass bills over the finish line in a timely manner amid opposition — and delay tactics — from senators like Cruz.

“We have seen enormous bipartisan progress. We have a very strong bill with agreement on both sides of the aisle,” Cruz told us.

Longtime Senate watchers know that Cruz has been a perpetual thorn in the side of both Republican and Democratic leadership throughout his 11 years in office.

But Cruz’s posture is also notable in the context of his reelection campaign. The conservative firebrand has spent a lot of time lately emphasizing bipartisanship — and, indeed, there are several cross-party efforts he can point to throughout his career.

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), Cruz’s opponent, has been accusing the incumbent of trying to rewrite his record.

Democratic senators, though, were careful not to criticize Cruz, especially as there’s a lot of uncertainty about whether the FAA bill can reach President Joe Biden’s desk in time. The current FAA extension expires on May 10. There were, however, some eye rolls and chuckles when we asked Democrats about it.

“I’d rather just take advantage of it and get shit done,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) quipped.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) put it this way: “For a lot of those people, it’s like having an itch and getting to scratch it. It feels good, it feels like you’re doing the right thing.”

Next steps for FAA: The Senate will take the next procedural vote this afternoon before leaving town for the week.

But senators and leadership aides have their work cut out for them over the next few days. They’re working feverishly to get a deal on amendment votes in order to speed up final passage.

Virginia and Maryland senators officially introduced their amendment Wednesday to scrap a provision from the bill that would add flight slots at Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

As we’ve reported, other senators are using the must-pass bill as a chance to get long-stalled — and unrelated — bipartisan legislation over the finish line.

It’ll be up to leadership to cut a deal that all 100 senators can live with and wrap up the process quickly in order to give the House enough time to pass it before next Friday.

— Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.