Mike Lee

Ted Cruz May Run for President in 2016

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been frequently mentioned at United Liberty since he came out of nowhere last year to defeat David Dewhurst in a heated primary campaign. Since taking office in January, Cruz has wasted no time in challenging the political establishment in Washington and further endearing himself to the conservative movement.

Alongside Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), Cruz has made up a core of principled fiscal conservatives who have a genuine concern that the Constitution is being ignored, not just by the Obama Administration, but also his fellow Republicans. He, like Paul and Lee, has been a strong voice against gun control, taken a strong stand for civil liberties, driven the Republican establishment crazy, and perplexed the mainstream media. Perhaps his only real misstep along the way was his questioning of Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, who would go on to win confirmation by the Senate.

WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin Calls Ted Cruz a “Jerk”

As noted yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has ruffled some feathers inside the Republican Party due to the strong stand that he took with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) against President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals.

The trio had sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promising to filibuster any new gun control measures. While it started with just the three of them, the signatories to the letter eventually grew to 16.

During a FreedomWorks seminar last week, Cruz noted that he was yelled at by some of his Republican colleagues in the Senate because they looked like a “bunch of squishes” to constituents back home because they hadn’t yet signed onto the letter. Cruz told them that they had an alternative, in that they could vote to filibuster and “not be a bunch of squishes.”

Cruz’s remarks haven’t sat well with some Republican bloggers, including Jennifer Rubin, who writes the “Right Turn” blog at the Washington Post.

In a post yesterday, Rubin, whose credibility has come into question after she proved herself to be a hack for Mitt Romney, slammed Cruz, essentially calling him a “jerk” for giving this story in public.

Media Still Shocked that Ted Cruz is Holding Republicans Accountable

Ted Cruz

The media still seems shocked that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was elected last year with substantial Tea Party and grassroots support, is taking on the political establishment, even if it includes members of his own party.

Back in February, Cruz defended his style after many Senate Democrats criticized him. “I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do,” Cruz told Reuters during a visit to a Texas-based gun manufacturer. He also gained some coverage over his questioning of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who was pushing the Assault Weapons Ban. And though he did cross a line during the confirmation hearing of then-Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, Cruz has been generally spot thus far.

But Cruz has raised eyebrows once again. During a surprise talk last week at the FreedomWorks summit in Texas, the freshman Senator explained that the grassroots activists are winning and criticzed “squishes” inside the Republican Party, pointing to the gun control issue as an example.

Senate Committee Moves to Protect E-Mail Privacy

Internet privacy

On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation backed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require that law enforcement obtain a warrant before it can search Americans’ e-mails and other online file:

A Senate committee today backed sweeping privacy protections requiring the government, for the first time, to get a probable-cause warrant to obtain e-mail and other content stored in the cloud.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the package on a voice vote after about 30 minutes of debate, and sent the measure to the Senate floor, where it faces an uncertain future.

The legislation, (.pdf) sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the committee’s chair, and Michael S. Lee (R-Utah) nullifies a provision of federal law allowing the authorities to acquire a suspect’s e-mail or other stored content from an internet service provider without showing probable cause that a crime was committed if the content is 180 days or older.

Under the current law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the government can obtain e-mail without a warrant as long as the data has been stored on a third-party server — the cloud — for 180 days or more. The government only needs to show, often via an administrative subpoena, that it has “reasonable grounds to believe” the information would be useful to an investigation.

Mike Lee Presents the “Positive Case” for Conservatism

One of the most interesting debates in American politics is taking place right now inside the conservative movement. There has been a lot of focus on the shellacking Republicans took at the ballot box in 2012. Some are saying that the losses happened because conservatives have grown in influence, while others point out that Mitt Romney, the GOP’s presidential nominee in the last cycle, didn’t present a strong agenda.

Among those in the conservative movement who has been part of this debate is Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who is in the middle of his first term in the upper chamber. Along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lee has been among those who are not only working to restore fiscal sanity in Washington, but also a strong voice for the rights and liberties that are guaranteed in the Constitution.

During a speech yesterday at the Heritage Foundation, Lee offered his view of conservatism and the path that conservatives need to take to appeal to Americans as they move toward 2014 and beyond.

Too often, conservatives are known for their opposition to various policies proposed by the Obama Administration. This has helped the Democrats and the media define them as being the “party of ‘no.’” Instead of focusing on opposition, Lee, who was elected as part of the “Tea Party class” in the 2010 mid-term, presented what he called the “positive case for conservatism” by talking about “what conservatives are for.”

Lee began his speech by noting that both Republicans and Democrats “succumb to easy negativity” and that the gridlock in Washington makes for fodder in the media. Lee explained that this “helps explain why the federal government is increasingly held in such low regard by the American people.”

Chatting with Dean Clancy on the “New Fair Deal”

New Fair Deal

“I think these big defined benefit programs from the New Deal, the Great Society are really showing their age. They don’t give you a good deal, they’re poorly designed. Market forces work so much better, and, you know, this America, why shouldn’t people be free?” — Dean Clancy

Today at noon, FreedomWorks will host grassroots activists at the New Fair Deal Action Day in the Upper Senate Park at the United States Capitol. The day is dedicated to the ideals that are being rolled out as part of the “New Fair Deal” plan, which is based on four basic principles — end corporate welfare, tax fairly, stop overspending, and empowering individuals. The New Fair Deal Action Day will include a number of speakers, including Reps. Justin Amash, Mick Mulvaney, Tom Price, Sen. Mike Lee, Rev. C.L. Bryant, and Julie Borowski.

On Friday, I sat down with Dean Clancy, Vice President for Public Policy at FreedomWorks, to discuss the four pillars of the New Fair Deal and the legislation that will be introduced by the team of House members who are working together to try to get the dozen bills that will be introduced to the floor for a vote.

“The New Fair Deal is a suite of legislation to try to reform and improve our country,” Clancy told United Liberty. “This is not just a ‘Tax Day’ protest — this is a positive reform agenda rally. And we do have folks getting on buses from all over the country and coming to it.”

Harry Reid Thanks John McCain for Gun Control

John McCain

During his comments from the floor of the Senate yesterday, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) thanked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for his behind-the-scenes work on getting many of his colleagues to support opening debate on new gun control measures:

Here’s the video via Charlie Spiering:

Reid also took some shots at the filibuster attempt that was led by conservative members. “I hope there will be no efforts to continue this filibuster,” he said. “There is no reason we shouldn’t get to legislating,” adding later that “[w]e cannot have just a few Senators spoiling everything for everyone here.”

Senate Votes to Proceed on Gun Control Bill

The United States Senate voted this morning on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s motion to proceed with debate on proposed gun control laws.

Conservative senators — led by Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) — had declared their intent to filibuster any attempt to move forward on new gun control laws. But with the pointless deal struck yesterday between Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) on expanded background checks, it was clear that momentum had shifted.

The Senate approved the motion to proceed by a 68-31 vote. Sixteen Republicans voted in favor of the motion to move forward on the gun control proposals. Two Democrats — Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mark Begich (D-AK) — voted to sustain the filibuster.

Just after the vote, Reid said that it was likely that the Senate would take up the Toomey-Manchin amendment on background checks later today. He also noted that there would be a vote on the Assault Weapons Ban as an amendment to the bill. Reid had dropped that particular proposal out of the bill last month after he conceded that he couldn’t muster enough support for it.

The amendments process for the bill is expected to take some time, so a final vote on the bill is likely a few weeks away.

Biden Targets Senate Conservatives Over Gun Control Filibuster

Joe Biden

Always one to say what’s on his mind, Vice President Joe Biden attacked conservative senators who are planning to filibuster on gun control measures that will soon come before the upper chamber:

Speaking to law enforcement officials at the White House, Biden said he wished members of Congress had been able to “eavesdrop” on his discussion with the parents of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed in a shooting in December.
“Not only are some of the senators not willing to stand and be counted, they’re prepared to stop anybody from being able to be counted. I mean, it’s almost mind-boggling,” Biden said.

“You’ve got leading senators, the most august body in the world, legislative body in the world — they’re saying we’re not even going to talk about this, a tragedy that traumatized the nation and caught the attention of the entire world,” he said. “And after all the thinking and the debate and the discussion with overwhelming majority of the American people thinking that the proposals the president put forward make absolute sense, the climax of this tragedy could be we’re not even going to get a vote?

“I can’t believe it. I mean, at the end of the day I can’t believe that it will actually happen,” he said.

White House Knocks Conservative Senators Over Gun Control Filibuster Threat

Jay Carney

On Tuesday, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) sent notice to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that they would filibuster a procedural motion on new gun control measures that will be brought before the chamber next month.

“We…intend to oppose any legislation that would oppose on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance,” stated the letter from the conservative trio.

“The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ right to self-defense,” they noted. “It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.”

The main issue is the push for universal background checks, which Reid has said will be included in any gun control package that passes the Senate. Cruz, Lee, and Paul believe that the measure will serve as a vehicle for a national gun registry.

“The Democrats’ proposed legislation would require universal background checks for private sales between law-abiding citizens, which according to DOJ would be effective only if accompanied by a national gun registry,” said Cruz in a statement posted on his website. “This raises serious constitutional issues, and would divert resources from prosecuting felons and fugitives who try to illegally purchase guns.”

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