Cruz starts Senate amid financial votes

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As a new Congress takes office Thursday, members must soon dive back into the debate over the nation’s finances. But some new Texas lawmaking blood could bring a different view to Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama signed into law a bill to steer clear of the fiscal cliff this week, as Americans nervously awaited the impact the lengthy partisan fight would make on the nation's economy.

Four Texas Republicans aided in the passage of the fiscal cliff bill in the U.S. House. All of the state’s Democratic delegation in Congress voted for the measure.

Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said he reluctantly voted for his chamber’s compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff, despite protest from some of the state’s most right-leaning conservatives. Texas’ retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also voted for the measure – her last vote before departing the Senate.

Texas’ incoming senator – Ted Cruz – could aid the ultra-conservative faction on such future decisions though. While the Republican was not yet eligible to vote, his office has said he would not have supported the proposal.

"We're going broke, and I think it's fundamentally immoral to saddle our kids and grand kids with debts they cannot repay," Cruz said. "We need serious leadership to address these problems. The fiscal cliff deal did none of that."

His party kept control of the House after the 2012 election, though it lost seats – down to 234 from 242. House Democrats took 201, up from 193.

Democrats gained seats in the Senate for a new balance of 55-44 (those 55 seats include two independents who caucus with the party).

Still ahead is the set of automatic spending cuts of up to 10 percent – the sequester – of most agencies’ budgets and federal programs. Congress will tackle that item at the end of February.

A debt ceiling decision the last Congress postponed will be due around that same time. This self-imposed limit on the amount the U.S. may borrow will undoubtedly come with a struggle over spending. The ceiling of $16.394 trillion has already been reached.

"I think most Americans are not terribly interested in the political battles that go on inside the U.S. Capitol," Cruz added. "They're looking for leaders that will roll their sleeves up and get serious about solving these problems."

However, the first item on the agenda will be a lofty aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy. A vote for an immediate $9 billion is set for Friday, while a larger amount of $51 billion will be taken up on Jan. 15.

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That lofty aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy needs to be stripped of as much pork as possible. I trust that Sen. Cruz will fully address this issue. I would expect for Sen. Cornyn to hold back on anything that looks or smells like a compromise when said compromise is tied to hard earned taxpayer funds.

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Republican Rick Perry is Governor of Texas. Two Republicans represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, and Texas has 32 representatives in the U.S. House: 20 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
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