OTR Interviews

Cruz: Reid wants to hold veterans hostage to force ObamaCare onto the American people

Controversial senator gives take on Day 3 of the partial suspension of government services, his forecast for a solution to the divide over the budget


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now to Senator Ted Cruz taking fire from Democrats and now some Republicans, too. Now, we spoke with Senator Cruz a short time ago.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: It's good to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, I read an article today which said the Senate was off to sort of a snippy start today, and the reference was, is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling you the joint speaker of the House, obviously, a reference that he thinks that you have -- you're doing something over in the House of Representatives or controlling them. What do you think? I mean, is that a -- is that out of line or sort of funny, or what do you think about that?

CRUZ: Well, look, the more progress we have made, the more energy there has been from the American people behind defunding Obamacare, behind stopping the harms from ObamaCare, the nastier the Democrats have gotten, the nastier Harry Reid has gotten. It's gotten more and more personal.

They have been using personal invective. They've been calling us anarchists and terrorists. And listen, Greta, I think that's a sign of the fact that they're concerned.

You know, for months, they've been saying there's no chance of stopping ObamaCare. If there wasn't any chance, they wouldn't be this scared. They wouldn't be this shrill. They wouldn't be this nasty and personal. And I think what they're scared about is the American people are energized right now. And personally, I find that inspiring.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you peeling off some more Republicans within your own -- in the Senate to your side? Are they sort of stocking up, or are they sort of moving away from you on this issue?

CRUZ: You know, I think we're seeing incredible momentum. I think we're seeing momentum, number one, with the American people. Millions of Americans have gone to Dontfundit.com, sign the national petition. I think we're seeing momentum with the House of Representatives, which has been standing together, listening to the American people.

And I think we're seeing momentum in the Senate. You know, Senate Republicans a couple of weeks ago were divided. I think we're more and more becoming united supporting the House Republicans.

Four times the House of Representatives has passed a compromise that would keep the government running, that would fund the government but that would stop the enormous harms that ObamaCare is inflicting on the American people. And four times, Greta, Harry Reid has said, Pound sand, jump in a lake. No compromise. No discussion. Shut down the government. This is Harry Reid's shutdown because he wants a shutdown and because he refuses to listen to the American people.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the House has passed a number of bills, piecemeal bills that Senator Harry Reid says that, you know, basically -- I don't know if you (INAUDIBLE) a gun held to his head, but I've heard all sorts of different things going back and forth. But he thinks that's a lousy way to try to resolve this.

I assume you're with the House on this. But where does this all end up? Where are we going?

CRUZ: You know, Greta, we're in a remarkable situation. Number one, the way Congress is supposed to work, the way it's worked for centuries, is that Congress should pass appropriations one topic at a time, not everything mashed into a giant CR. So what he calls the piecemeal process is the traditional process of legislating.

But number two, the person that laid out this approach was President Barack Obama. A couple of days ago, President Obama gave a speech to the American people where he said if there's a shutdown, Social Security will continue, Medicare will continue. The men and women of the military will be paid. But then he detailed -- and look, that was a big concession there because Barack Obama for months had been threatening Social Security and Medicare and the men and women of the military. So he finally conceded what we had been saying for months.

But then he listed the areas that President Obama intended to cut, and he said that border patrol agents were not going to be paid. He said he was going to shut down national parks and memorials. He said that he was going to shut down much of the VA.

And what did the House of Representatives do? It said, Mr. President, we have heard you. And we are responding with bipartisan cooperation. Mr. President, you said you don't want to shut down the VA., fine. We'll pass a bill that funds the VA in its entirety because whatever happens in a shutdown, our veterans shouldn't pay the price.

And what happened today when it came over to the Senate? Harry Reid and the Democrats objected. So right now, Greta, this instance, the VA would be funded in its entirety if it were not for Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats. Every House Republican voted to fund the VA and every Senate Republican supports funding the VA, as President Obama asked us to!

But it is because Harry Reid is shutting down the government and he's objecting to allowing us to fund the VA. He's effectively saying he wants to hold veterans hostage in order to force ObamaCare on the American people.

And listen, I think that gamesmanship -- I think it's cynical. I think it's partisan. And I think the American people understand the games he's playing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Looking forward to what this issue may collide with, which is the issue of the debt ceiling, how do you -- what do you anticipate doing, your person, your vote on the debt ceiling. Raise the debt ceiling or not raise the debt ceiling? And if raise the debt ceiling, I take it you have some conditions. What are your conditions?

CRUZ: Well, sure, look, when we get to the debt ceiling, I think we cannot raise the debt ceiling without significant structural reforms addressing the out-of-control spending problems. But in my view, we ought to tackle one thing at a time. Right now, the federal government is partly shut down because Harry Reid and Barack Obama have forced a shutdown.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except one problem...

CRUZ: And we need to focus on this one.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me -- let me tell you -- let me tell you is that I really think it's terrible that we came up to September 30th and had this crisis. And I mean, I've been...

CRUZ: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... harping on the fact that there's a five-week vacation in August. Everybody knew September 30th was going to roll around. So I have that the same sort of feeling with hitting the debt ceiling, which is about October 17th. I don't want to do one thing at a time because then we always do it in a crisis mode. And so why not think about right now what we're going to start doing? So that's why I'm curious what -- you know, whether -- you know, your plan because this last minute stuff just is not very helpful to the American people!

CRUZ: Greta, you're exactly right, but it's not by accident. The Democrats in Congress want government by crisis. There's a reason. OK, so -- so the House passed a bill to open every park, every memorial, and what happened? Harry Reid and the Democrats objected. Why? Because they -- they -- I mean, you know, they had been sent shutting away the World War II memorial and sending away World War II vets because they want crisis because they think it'll force the funding for ObamaCare.

The same thing on continuing resolutions and the debt ceiling. You're right, we shouldn't be here in a crisis. And in fact, Senator Rob Portman has legislation that would eliminate government shutdowns. Senator Pat Toomey, Republican from Pennsylvania, has legislation that would eliminate the threat of a default on the debt ceiling.

What happens on both of those? Harry Reid and the Democrats have killed that legislation because they want government by crisis because it's the way they keep exploding the size of government. It's why we've got nearly a $17 trillion national debt and it's why so many Americans are frustrated with Washington because the place is broken and it's like a leviathan that keeps growing and growing and growing.

The only way we can change it is what's happening right now, if we force D.C. to listen to the American people. I think that's the only way we can change it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Cruz, nice to see you. Hope you'll come back. We've got a lot to talk about the next couple weeks. Thank you, sir.

CRUZ: Indeed. Thank you, Greta. Thanks for everything you do.