The plan sounded similar to what Cruz touted in October 2013, when he floated the option of holding government money hostage in exchange for dismantling Obamacare. That strategy eventually led to a 17-day government shutdown.
Politically, however, Cruz was not hurt by the hard-charging politicking. A poll following the shutdown showed that his favorability among Republicans remained in the low 60 percent range after the shutdown. If Cruz's primary interest is in making a splash in the primary, he may be in the best position to weather a funding showdown. Cruz's insistence on putting his cowboy boot down to stop executive overreach is a key way he rakes in campaign cash and raises his profile. For him, a right turn in a GOP-led Congress, where Cruz already holds sway over conservative members of the House, could mean only one thing—a rise in his own political profile.
Meanwhile, if House leaders can pull off a "Cromnibus," or even a short-term funding bill without a hitch in the next two weeks, it could give Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida a chance to redefine himself on immigration in the next Congress. In 2013, Rubio was at the center of the Senate's comprehensive immigration legislation. Along with Republican Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, Rubio embraced one big bipartisan immigration bill that would have legalized more than 11 million immigrants, bolstered border security, and reworked the nation's visa process. At the time, Rubio was praised by moderates for going out on a limb and being the fresh conservative face of a politically fraught issue. Rubio's tea-party base, however, blasted the freshman senator for negotiating with Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Today, Rubio will say he always preferred a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, but that he was limited in 2013 by the parameters set by Democrats who controlled the Senate. If House Republicans can pass a clean continuing resolution, even a shorter-term one without any risk of a political showdown with the White House, Rubio may get his chance to be involved in immigration reform again. Only this time, it'll be with a Republican-controlled Congress where Republicans can pass border security measures first before moving to legalize any immigrants living in the shadows.
"This could be an opportunity for Rubio to show exactly what he wanted to do. He should be involved in the discussions. Instead of being afraid of the issue, he needs to take this opportunity to show he wants to do something different from what the Senate did," said GOP strategist and immigration activist Alfonso Aguilar.
Rubio's been clear that it's not plausible that Republicans can stop Obama's executive order with the type of vote some in the Republican House Conference have called for.
"I would love to be able to say that I could go on the floor now and get a vote to actually do something about it, but I doubt that is going to happen as long as Harry Reid is running the place for the next six weeks.," Rubio said in the immediate aftermath of the president's executive action. "That's why winning the majority was so important."