Alexander joins Cruz in seeking an agenda for Republican U.S. senators

Under the headline “GOP senators need an agenda — so they’re doing a poll,” Politico reports Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and Texas Sen. Ted have been quietly circulating an unusual “survey” of their colleagues in recent weeks asking about their level of support for dozens of legislative proposals, some of them highly controversial.

The areas under consideration include taking another stab at repealing and scaling back Obamacare; trying for Round 2 of tax cuts; eliminating or reining in the Consumer Financial Protection Board; defunding Planned Parenthood and other anti-abortion rights measures; instituting work requirements for federal welfare programs; expanding gun rights; instituting budget reforms; and dozens more.

Yet the Cruz-Alexander poll will likely show that Obamacare repeal still can’t get 50 GOP votes, according to Republican sources who’ve already taken the temperature of the caucus, and that any proposal to make the Trump tax cuts permanent couldn’t clear the 60-vote filibuster bar.

Further complicating matters, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) isn’t interested in holding “messaging” votes he knows will fail.

Still, the survey could show areas where 30 or so senators from each caucus could team up, such as regulatory reform or education legislation.

… “Our hope is to get a sense of the Conference on what legislative proposals can command 50 votes, and what is most import to each of you — additional victories we can achieve together in 2018,” Cruz and Alexander said in a May 16 letter. They based their efforts on a similar survey last year by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) that led to congressional repeal of Obama-era regulations opposed by business groups.

… Cruz, who is up for reelection in November, is trying to push as many conservative legislative measures as possible, worried that the potential loss of the House or the Senate this fall will curtail the GOP’s ambitions under Trump.

Once a McConnell antagonist, Cruz sought out Alexander’s support to help make the survey effort less confrontational and more collaborative. The Tennessee Republican suggested letting senators make their own legislative suggestions if they were uncomfortable picking from Cruz’s mostly conservative list, said a person familiar with the effort.

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