Sen. Cruz: IMF provision shouldn't have been in Ukraine bill

Texas lawmaker sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 25, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: The federal government does not have the authority to force people to violate their faith, particularly when they're granting exemptions to every other powerful interest. They can't single out people of faith and say, you will be treated worse than big business, worse than members of Congress.



NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Texas senator Ted Cruz today on the holy war playing outside a very snowy Supreme Court today, at issue, whether the highest court in the land must acknowledge an even higher authority above.

Can you force a business to sign on to a health care law that violates their religious beliefs? Because these protests in Washington, they weren't over the individual mandate. They were over the contraception mandate. And the company stating its case says its has no less than God in its corner.

Welcome, everybody. Glad to have you. I'm Neil Cavuto.

More on that epic fight in a moment.

First to Ted Cruz seizing another moment, because it looks like the Texas senator just stopped taxpayers from getting, oh, I don't know, IMFed -- at least that what he says -- removing a provision in a Ukrainian aid package that would have forced taxpayers to pony up an additional $68 million to the International Monetary Fund.

Harry Reid moments ago removing that very language, and Senator Cruz just delighted he did.

The senator joins me right now from Washington.

Senator, well, it's good to see you indoors, rather than out in the snow.


CAVUTO: Congratulations for this. That's quite a -- quite a coup, because that $68 million was sticking in a lot of people's craw.

How did it get there in the first place?

CRUZ: Well, thank you, Neil. It's great to be with you.

And, likewise, I'm glad that we're not out in the snow getting snowed on right now.

You know, the IMF provision should not have been included in the Ukraine bill to begin with. They had nothing to do with the Ukraine. We had bipartisan support for imposing tough sanctions on Russia for standing with the people of Ukraine. And, unfortunately, the Obama administration tried to use it as an excuse to ram through changes to the IMF that they have been pushing for, for years.

And, in particular, if these changes had passed, they would have significantly increased the exposure of U.S. taxpayers, potentially billions of dollars, to IMF exposure. But in addition to that, and even more nonsensically, they would have decreased America's influence at the IMF and increased Russia's.

And I got to say, Neil, when you're trying to respond to Russia's act of war, act of unprovoked aggression, to respond by increasing Russia's influence at the IMF was really through the looking glass. And I spoke out. A number of us spoke out. And I'm very glad to see -- I commend Harry Reid for listening to reason, for listening to the views of the other side, and for pulling -- pulling it out of this -- this bill, so that we can now unite on standing with the people of Ukraine.

CAVUTO: Well, it was sort of a half-hearted bow to you, Senator.

As you know, he also said -- also blamed Republicans for all but encouraging the Crimea raid and the steal, the annexation on the part of Russia, because you were dallying a little bit on this aid. What did you make of that?

CRUZ: Well, look, that's just politics.

Over a week ago, we came, my friend and colleague Senator John Barrasso came to the Senate floor and asked unanimous consent to pass the House bill. The House bill over a week ago that would have provided aid to Ukraine. It didn't have the misguided IMF provisions.

And if Harry Reid and the Democrats had not objected, this would have passed and gone to Barack Obama's desk for signature over a week ago. And it's only because Harry Reid and the Democrats decided to play political games with it that it got delayed.

But, listen, at this point, I want to give credit where credit is due. Harry Reid and the Democrats heard the objections, the bipartisan objections, to decreasing America's role at the IMF and to increasing Russia's role at the IMF. And they quite rightly and wisely decided to drop the provision and instead focus where our priority should be, which is stopping Russia's aggression and standing with the people of Ukraine.

CAVUTO: You know, Senator, I was thinking of this. With or without the IMF feature, Ron Paul was here saying, how sure are we that any aid that goes to Ukraine gets to the people we intend? Or, in this case, since Ukraine owes the Russians $1.5 billion in various oil and energy contracts, the ultimate irony would be they have to cut a check with the money we give them to give to Russia.

CRUZ: No, it's a very good point.

And it's why I think the most important aid we could give would be, number one, immediately signing a free trade agreement with Ukraine, so they can sell their goods here, we can sell our goods there, and, number two, helping them put in place infrastructure to import liquid natural gas.

Energy and natural gas is the most effective economic blackmail Russia uses over Ukraine and much of Europe. We are blessed to have abundant supplies of natural gas in the United States, but the Obama administration has failed to approve over 20 applications to export LNG.

In my view, the administration should immediately approve all of those applications, allow LNG to be exported, and help Ukraine accept that LNG. And, Neil, what that would do is three things. One, it would help free Ukraine from economic blackmail from Russia. Two, it would strike Putin where it really hurts, which is in the wallet, because he is effectively petro tyrant relying on that energy to fund his military aggressiveness

But, three, it would generate jobs and economic growth here at home. It's a win-win, but, unfortunately, the Obama administration, at least to date, is still blocking it.

CAVUTO: I talked to TransCanada's CEO on Fox Business Report, Senator -- which is you don't get, by the way, you should demand.


CAVUTO: And one of the things he told me, Senator -- and I will play a clip from that -- is that we're putting ourselves on the receiving end of these Putin, you know, taunts because we're not -- we're not finishing that pipeline. This is from the TransCanada CEO, the guy who runs Keystone.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSSELL GIRLING, CEO, TRANSCANADA: Energy security is an extremely important geopolitical matter. And, certainly, Keystone is -- was -- was a cornerstone of trying to build that here in North America. And it continues to be.


CAVUTO: What he is essentially saying is, the more oil we have, the more natural gas we have, the more free we are to ship it to Europe in case Putin threatens that he will stop shipping it to them, the more leverage we have. Do you agree with that?

CRUZ: I think that's absolutely right.

Look, we have seen a transformation of the geopolitical arena because of the abundance, the energy renaissance we're experiencing. Now, the biggest danger to that renaissance is if the federal government screws it up. If the Obama administration tries to stop fracking, it could halt the energy renaissance in its tracks.

But we have the real potential in the medium to short term of North American energy independence, of the United States becoming the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas and our exporting energy. That transforms the geopolitical arena and it means we're no longer dependent on the Middle East, upon nations with very different interests.

It means we can help liberate countries from Russia's domination and it means we can give a message to the people of Venezuela. Right now, Venezuela is sending oil to Cuba in exchange for Cuban thugs and army officers that are repressing the Venezuelan people.

For all of them, we can say, there's a better path, a free market path that leads to prosperity, rather than being subject to dictatorial oppression. That's a message, a message of freedom that I think is a winning message worldwide.

CAVUTO: You know, Senator, lot of people think you're going to be running for president. And I know this is not the time or moment to waste a question on whether you are, although I hope you announce it here first if you do intend to do that.

But one of the things that comes up is what type of energy policy a President Cruz might -- might endorse. This administration says it's all in on everything. You can -- fossil fuel, sun, wind. The critics say, as the Keystone pipeline guy was telling me, it's not all in on oil and natural gas.

Would you, as president, if you became president, be open to all sun, all solar, all wind, besides all oil, all gas?

CRUZ: Well, Neil, you're right.

The administration's rhetoric, they claim to support energy. Yet this has been the most anti-energy administration we have ever seen. It makes the Carter administration seem welcoming of our energy reserves. They blocked the Keystone pipeline, which makes no sense at all, has overwhelming bipartisan support.

And, in fact, President Obama's own former energy secretary admitted opposition to the Keystone pipeline was not based on science; it was purely political.


CAVUTO: Well, by the way, there's talk, Senator, that it will be approved, sort of like an election eve development, maybe in October this year. What you think of that?

CRUZ: Well, look, that could be.

The only reason it hasn't been approved years ago is that President Obama is blocking it. And we have got over 60 senators, bipartisan senators, who support it, but Harry Reid won't let it come for a vote. That's why it hasn't been approved.

I have in recent weeks rolled out my energy legislation, the American Energy Renaissance Act, that would, number one, remove the federal barriers to exploring and developing our energy resources, prevent the federal government from stopping fracking, stop the federal government's war on coal, allow the private sector to generate millions of high-paying jobs, and, then, number two, that would open up new federal lands and resources to exploration and development at a time when we desperately need economic growth and jobs.

It's truly a providential blessing that we have the energy resources that are opening to us right before our eyes, thanks to the miracle of entrepreneurs risking capital and discovering new ways to employ technology to develop our resources.

CAVUTO: You mentioned the providential interference, I guess, and this whole gist of the Supreme Court argument today was over a company morally and ethically opposed to accepting a health care law requirement that goes against their religious convictions for funding for contraception and abortion issues, all of that.

Do you think that -- that that is a good tack to take, and do you think that this fuels the argument a lot of your opponents had that the health care law will be an issue without having to try to kill the law, which would go nowhere in the Senate, would go nowhere in Washington right now, but this is the way to do it, and -- and Senator Cruz must appreciate that this is the way to do it?

What do you say?

CRUZ: Well, look, let me say on the merits, three or four years ago, reasonable minds maybe could have differed as to whether Obamacare might work.

Today, looking at the disaster that is Obamacare, you can't make the argument defending it. Today, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work, have lost their health insurance, or are facing skyrocketing premiums because of Obamacare.

Today, more people have lost their health insurance because of Obamacare than have gotten health insurance. And I think today, it is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge this thing isn't working. It's hurting millions of Americans. We need to start over.

CAVUTO: Well, that's what they say, Senator. What they're saying, though, I guess they're called RINOs, Republican in name only, who make the argument, well, Senator Cruz, we're on the same page here. This thing is dying of its own accord. You don't have to do anything fancy-schmancy. Let it dies of its own accord, and Senator Cruz can just calm down. What do you say?

CRUZ: Look, I think Republicans need to stand for principle.

I think the result politically where we are in terms of the national elections is in many ways a result of millions of Americans who rose up last fall and said, Obamacare is a train wreck, it's a disaster, it is hurting millions of Americans.

I think that elevated the national debate. And, as a consequence, President Obama has plummeted in the polls. Obamacare has plummeted in the polls. Young people now don't support Obamacare. Hispanics don't support Obamacare. Independents don't support Obamacare. Democrats don't support Obamacare.

And that's all because of standing and fighting for principle. And I will tell you, I'm convinced, Neil, as a result of the efforts of millions of Americans saying, we don't want to live under this law that is threatening our ability to take care of the health care of our kids, I'm convinced we're going to repeal every word of it.

But the way to do it, the predicate for that is making the case to the American people that it is a failed policy that is hurting people, that the president's promise, if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it, was flat-out false.

CAVUTO: Right.

Senator, I just wanted you to parse through this one -- I know you have been directly in other appearances -- about this reaction you get that, among Republicans in particular, that they like your message. They agree with your message. They just think that you're a sort of "burn the house down" messenger and that you do more damage to the party's prospects with that fiery talk than just dialing it back.

What do you think of that?

CRUZ: You know, it's interesting, Neil.

I think the reaction in Washington, D.C., is the polar opposite of the reaction outside of Washington. You're right. In Washington, there are a lot of career politicians in both parties that don't want change, that are invested in the status quo.

The greatest frustration people across the country have is that our elected officials in both parties are not listening to us. You hear that from the man and woman on the street. You hear this from Republicans, from Democrats, from independents, from libertarians. They are not listening to us.

The American people want jobs and economic growth. Congress is doing nothing to provide that. The American people want their constitutional liberties protected. Congress is doing nothing to provide that.

And, so, are there folks in Washington who are dismayed that I'm doing my level best to fight for free market principles in the Constitution? Yes. But, at the end of the day, you know, it's interesting you mentioned fiery rhetoric. You're not hearing any rhetoric from me.

What I'm saying is, we need to listen to the people who elected us and solve the grave fiscal and economic problems we have.

CAVUTO: All right.

Senator Cruz, it's always a pleasure, sir. Thank you very much.

CRUZ: Thank you, Neil. It's great to be with you.

CAVUTO: Ted Cruz.

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