Click any of the issues below to compare what each candidate has said about the selected issue.
Environment & Energy
Entitlements & Welfare
Finance & Banking
Military Preparedness & Budget
War On Terror
Free Speech & Religious Liberty
As a senator, Clinton voted against President George W. Bush’s major tax-cut packages. That said, once they were enacted, she did generally vote to extend many of the existing cuts.
She has endorsed the so-called “Buffett Rule,” which aims to make high-income earners pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes, without providing many details other than a 5 percent surtax on personal income over $5 million, unveiled in early January 2016.
In order to pay for her five-year, $275 billion infrastructure spending proposal, Clinton has said she would raise taxes on businesses (which she terms “reforms”), but she has not specified what taxes would be raised.
Clinton voted in favor of a bill to extend the moratorium on Internet taxes.
According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, Clinton’s tax policies would raise approximately $1.1 trillion over the next decade, with the top 1 percent of earners paying nearly three-quarters of those new taxes.
As a senator she voted to increase the minimum wage. She has announced her support for a $12 federal minimum wage, well above the current $7.25 standard but below the $15 level many progressive activists prefer.
She also voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill to impose heavy accounting and bookkeeping regulations on certain industries and was a co-sponsor of legislation after the housing crisis that would have imposed a temporary moratorium on foreclosures. She endorsed Obama’s call for tough “net neutrality” regulations to be imposed on Internet service providers.
As part of a proposal to reduce energy use in the U.S., she announced she would work to establish energy-efficient model building codes, expand the number of products covered under Energy Star ratings, and subject more appliances and equipment to energy efficiency mandates.
Clinton is on the record speaking of the benefits of fracking, though she favors regulating the practice.
As a senator, Clinton supported a so-called card check bill, which would allow unions to dispense with the need for a vote to organize at a particular company. The bill also curtailed an employer’s ability to influence the outcome of organization efforts.
Clinton is on the record speaking of the benefits of fracking, though she favors regulating the practice. She nominally supports exporting natural gas and oil production and sees gas as a clean, job-creating alternative to coal. After months of declining to weigh in on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, citing her role as secretary of state in helping guide the assessment process, Clinton finally announced in September 2015 that she opposed construction of the pipeline.
Clinton opposes drilling in the Arctic Wildlife National Reserve and voted in favor of an amendment to that effect. She does support some offshore drilling, but again calls for heavy regulation by government in that arena. In August 2015 she announced her opposition to an Obama administration decision to allow drilling in the Arctic Ocean. She has also said that she would prevent any further development of fossil fuel resources on federal lands, although it wasn’t clear if she would allow extraction to continue on sites that have already been developed.
In a March 2016 forum, she said a Clinton administration would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton strongly favors efforts to curb carbon emissions in response to what she perceives to be a threat posed by global warming. A firm supporter of cap-and-trade schemes, she also supports the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. As a senator, she supported a bill that would have expanded federally protected lands and waters.
As part of her 2016 campaign, Clinton has called for a goal of 500 million additional solar panels installed across the country and for renewable resources to generate enough electricity to power every home in the country.
Like Obama, Clinton proposed a stimulus package during her 2008 campaign. Her $110 billion plan would have focused on helping low-income families. She has long been opposed to a balanced budget amendment, though she did vote in favor of a one-year moratorium on earmarks. In 2001, she voted in favor of an additional $123.1 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Clinton has been sharply critical of the budget sequestration enacted as part of the debt limit deal in 2011, focusing in on the reduction in spending on scientific research. She also praised the 2013 Ryan-Murray budget compromise deal to increase spending in the short term in exchange for promised cuts in later years.
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Clinton has said she does not support a single-payer plan but meeting notes from her early health care reform efforts during her husband’s presidency show she favored it at that time. She has expressed her support for Obamacare and said she is open to making changes to it, and she proposed repealing the so-called “Cadillac tax” imposed on expensive health plans with the caveat that the lost revenue should be made up elsewhere.
She has also laid out specific proposals to limit out-of-pocket health care costs, including requiring insurers to provide three “sick” visits to the doctor at no out-of-pocket cost, offering a tax credit for out-of-pocket costs, and capping out-of-pocket drug costs at $250 a month.
She reiterated her support for a “public option” in Obamacare, a government-run insurer that would compete with private insurance companies in the market. She supported this idea in her 2008 campaign as well.
She also would require pharmaceutical companies to invest a specific percentage of their profits in research and development, eliminate the tax deductibility of consumer advertising, give Medicare the power to set drug prices for the program, and reduce the number of years biological medicines received patent protection from 12 to seven.
Her campaign has suggested that funds collected from pharmaceutical companies that fail to invest the required percentage in research and development be given to generic medicine manufacturers to encourage competition.
In December 2015, Clinton proposed spending $2 billion a year over 10 years to find a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinton was also instrumental in passing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a program that provides federal matching funds to states to provide health insurance for low-income families with children.
Clinton joined most of her Democratic colleagues in the Senate in voting against President Bush’s expansion of Medicare to create a prescription drug plan, largely based on a belief it was not generous enough to seniors and did not do more to control drug prices.
During her 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton proposed a plan that would mandate insurance coverage for all Americans. The plan’s cost, estimated (by her campaign) at $110 billion, would have been funded by repealing the Bush tax cuts.
One area Clinton did focus on during her Senate career was entitlements. In the past she supported keeping the cap on taxable income for Social Security, but more recently has suggested she might consider extending payroll taxes at income above the cap. She has proposed an initiative that would create retirement accounts for Americans but opposes any effort to privatize Social Security by allowing individuals to control their own accounts. She has said she wants to “enhance” Social Security, thought to mean offering more generous benefits to poorer retirees, but has not provided specifics or addressed the question of whether benefits should be increased for all retirees. She has said she would not rule out raising the retirement age for some people in the future, although she also said she doesn’t favor it.
In 1996, she was heavily criticized for supporting her husband’s decision to sign the welfare reform bill, and she supported a bipartisan plan to increase work requirements for welfare recipients. She has proposed an initiative that would create retirement accounts for Americans but opposes any effort to privatize Social Security by allowing individuals to control their own accounts. She has said she wants to “enhance” Social Security, thought to mean offering more generous benefits to at least some retirees, without providing specifics.
While not overtly opposed to NAFTA, given that it was a signature priority for her husband, she did state that she thought there ought to be higher priorities, such as health care. She went on to criticize NAFTA during her 2008 campaign for the presidency. She also opposed the Central America Free Trade Agreement, though she favored trade agreements with Singapore, Chile and Oman. More recently, Clinton has expressed reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal recently concluded by the Obama administration, and announced she would have to study the deal to decide whether to support it.
Clinton strongly favors immigration reform. She supported a comprehensive immigration reform plan in 2007 that would create a new type of visa allowing anyone in the U.S. without a valid visa to remain in the country for the rest of their lives. After 13 years, these immigrants would then be eligible for citizenship. She voted for the construction of a fence between the United States and Mexico and supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here, which she calls “essential” to reform.
More recently, she vowed to go beyond Obama’s executive orders on immigration to expand the ability of illegal aliens to stay in the U.S. She has criticized the “sanctuary city” policies that prevent or hinder the deportation of illegal immigrants who commit other serious crimes.
She has seldom weighed in on agricultural issues. She did vote in favor of an amendment limiting subsidies to a married couple to $250,000, and more recently said she would double funding to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program, which provides training and assistance to people new to agriculture.
Clinton supports maintaining the Export-Import Bank, a taxpayer-supported institution that primarily benefits large U.S. corporations including Boeing and General Electric. At an event for the biotechnology industry, she suggested the federal government should subsidize companies in the industry against the risks they face as investors, and she proposes doling out to generic medicine manufacturers funds that have been collected from pharmaceutical companies that don’t in her view invest enough in research and development.
As part of a $25 billion program aimed at supporting small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, she has pledged that she will “encourage banks, businesses, and foundations to match capital and financing” to entrepreneurs who have gone through government-approved training and support programs, which could put the government in the business of directing private investment into favored firms.
As a senator she previously opposed an ethanol mandate requiring an increasing amount to be blended into gasoline, but in 2015 she reversed her position to favor the mandate.
Clinton voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, generally described as a bailout for large banks, when she was still in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton revealed a Wall Street reform agenda in October 2015 that would extend the statute of limitations for financial crimes, devote more Department of Justice and SEC resources to investigation and prosecution of financial crimes, place a “fee on risk” aimed at leverage and short-term loans by financial firms, and impose requirements that bonuses paid to senior managers and executives be returned if the bank later loses money and has its financial health imperiled. She has also called for giving regulators the authority to re-organize or break up large firms, without providing details, as well as imposing a tax on high-frequency trading.
Clinton voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008, generally described as a bailout for large banks, when she was still in the U.S. Senate.
Clinton voted in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation imposing new accounting and investment regulations on companies and has opposed efforts to reform or repeal the Dodd-Frank regulations of the financial industry. She has also opposed efforts to bring back the Glass-Steagall Act’s separation of investment and commercial banking. As part of her rural development agenda, she has proposed simplifying regulations for community banks that often provide credit in rural areas.
She has also proposed increasing the potential rewards for Wall Street whistleblowers who come forward with information, currently capped at $1.6 million, and banning “golden parachute” payouts to persons in the financial industry who go to work for government.
As a senator, Clinton proposed a bill to increase the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers. This was even as she opposed the Bush administration on Iraq and Afghanistan.
She has been dismissive of allegations of widespread problems with the Veterans Health Administration, saying that veterans who get care are generally pleased with it and accusing Republicans of criticizing the agency due to an “ideological agenda.” Following severe criticism from veterans groups and others about her comments, she retracted her statement and weeks later while unveiling her VA reform plan called the problems “serious, systemic, and unacceptable.” Her plan would allow veterans to seek care outside the VA system in certain circumstances, but she has pledged she would oppose plans to privatize most services.
While she opposed many elements of the war on terrorism as a senator, she is generally thought to be more hawkish than most members of her party, having voted for military intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Even within the Obama administration, Clinton was considered to take a relatively proactive posture on military efforts abroad.
She also voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005. Clinton has expressed concern that the international community is not taking the threat of terrorism and war seriously enough.
She has suggested (possibly inaccurately) that Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents exposing domestic surveillance programs before fleeing to China and later Russia, could have come forward as a whistleblower and received protection, but instead broke the law and should face criminal sanctions if and when he returns to the U.S.
According to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under Obama while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, Clinton admitted that her opposition to the troop surge in Iraq was based on political concerns and her 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton has denied the charge, saying Gates misunderstood what she had said.
In 2008 Clinton argued that the Iraq War had diverted focus from the fight in Afghanistan and said she would send more troops to that country, and as secretary of state she supported President Obama’s decision for an 18-month “surge” to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida. More recently she has said she agrees with Obama’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through at least 2017.
As secretary of state, Clinton supported military intervention in Libya and the training of Syrian rebels, positions which compelled the administration to take a more aggressive pose. She has spoken against the use of U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS and and recently called for the U.S. to accept 65,000 refugees from the war-torn area. She has also backed the establishment of U.S.-enforced “no fly zones” in Syria and said she would increase the number of U.S. Special Forces personnel on the ground in Syria and Iraq as well as step up airstrikes against ISIS.
She has also called for United Nations sanctions against Iran, and stated that the use of military force against that country should not be taken off the table. In March 2015 she sharply criticized the Republican senators who signed a letter to the Iranian leadership warning them on the limits of a deal that was not ratified by Congress, and she praised the deal that Obama agreed to with Iran in July 2015.
She accused NATO of sliding into “military irrelevance” and fought for tougher sanctions against Russia. She supports financial and military aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists and has described Russia’s annexation of Crimea in harsh terms, comparing it to Nazi aggression. She has also said she favors imposing more sanctions on Russia if it assists Hezbollah in Syria.
As a U.S. senator, Clinton voted against the nominations of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, as well as to Roberts’ elevation to the role of chief justice.
Clinton has praised the court’s opinions in King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges. She has called the court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC “a grave error” and has promised to “do everything I can to appoint Supreme Court justices who protect the right to vote and do not protect the right of billionaires to buy elections.” She has said her Supreme Court nominees must support overturning Citizens United. In terms of the type of nominee she would appoint, she cited those who “respected precedence, felt what life was like for normal Americans, and had a career path outside of school and a conservative think tank.”
She has also promised to “appoint judges to our courts who understand that Roe v. Wade isn’t just binding legal precedent,” but “the touchstone of our reproductive freedom, the embodiment of our most fundamental rights, and no one – no judge, no governor, no Senator, no President – has the right to take it away.”
Clinton has described the U.S Constitution as a “living and working” document.
On crime, Clinton has said she supports the death penalty in “egregious cases” that she thought would be “limited and rare.” She also suggested she favors significant changes to the criminal justice system to address “mass incarceration” and intends to offer specific policy proposals in the future.
She has made an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and limit political speech a centerpiece of her campaign. She called the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision in the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing” and criticized the idea that the religious views of a company’s owners deserved constitutional protection.
Clinton has supported affirmative action policies in the past and is credited with helping to push Bill Clinton’s administration to fill half of all positions with women.
Clinton has generally favored stricter gun control laws, although she has endorsed the idea that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. She supports passage of a new “assault weapons” ban similar to the one passed in 1994, and favors allowing states and localities to determine their own gun laws, possibly including complete bans such as Washington, D.C., once had. She voted against legislation that would have prohibited lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers if their product were used in a crime.
In her 2000 U.S. Senate race she backed federal legislation that would have required gun owners to be licensed and handguns to be registered, but by her 2008 presidential campaign had backed off her support for this. More recently she has called for allowing lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and dealers if their products used in a crime, eliminating the requirement that gun sales be allowed if a background check doesn’t clear the system in 3 days, and imposing background checks on private firearm sales through executive action.
She has been a consistent advocate for abortion rights, most recently criticizing a House bill that would prohibit the procedure after 20 weeks. Her “HillaryCare” proposal in 1994 included language requiring abortion to be covered by all insurance plans. She has said she could not support any U.S. Supreme Court nominee who didn’t support the Roe v. Wade decision.
Clinton recently shifted her longstanding position against same-sex marriage, endorsing it in March 2013 after opposing it during the 2008 campaign. She praised the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Clinton criticized Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that would have allowed individuals, companies, and other organizations the opportunity to claim a religious exemption from having to follow certain laws. She said a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage was “breaking the law by denying other Americans their constitutional rights.” She also denounced the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case that protected the rights of religious business owners to not have to include certain forms of contraception in their employee health plans.
She was a co-sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, along with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators including Sam Brownback, Tom Coburn, and Chuck Schumer, but has also endorsed the so-called Equality Act, which could trample the religious freedoms of individuals and organizations who object to same-sex marriage.
She has made an amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and limit political speech a centerpiece of her campaign. She called the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision in the Hobby Lobby case “deeply disturbing” and criticized the idea that the religious views of a company’s owners deserved constitutional protection. Clinton supported the Family Entertainment Protection Act, legislation that would regulate the video game industry for violent content.
In the aftermath of the Bush v. Gore decision following the 2000 election, Clinton stated that the electoral college should be scrapped in favor of a national popular vote. She is also on the record asserting Congress ought to be more respectful of presidential authority.
As first lady of Arkansas, Clinton worked to establish teacher testing and tougher state standards for curriculum and classroom size. Clinton has been a supporter of charter schools for several decades, although she has recently criticized them, saying that “most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them.” She further explained that she views the role of charter schools as a way to “learn what worked and then apply them in the public schools.” She remains a backer of charter schools, however.
She also voted in favor of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), though she opposes school choice and any sort of voucher program for low-income students. She has also voiced concerns over what she considers excessive testing of schoolchildren required under NCLB. She has proposed providing federal funds to states that offer universal kindergarten.
She has endorsed Obama’s call for community colleges to be free and has proposed a $350 billion plan to make college more affordable that includes federal funds to states who increase their spending on higher education, reducing loan rates, and requiring colleges to repay some portion of defaulted student loans.
In late October 2015, Cruz unveiled his tax reform proposal, which includes two main elements – a flat tax of 10 percent on individual income and a 16 percent business gross-receipts tax to replace the corporate income tax. The individual income tax would include generous personal deductions exempting the first $36,000 in income for a family of four, as well as deductions for charitable contributions and mortgage interest for the first $500,000 of principal. The new business tax would function as a value added tax, allowing businesses to deduct the cost of producing a good or service as well as capital investments.
Cruz co-sponsored a bill in 2013 that would repeal the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax, and replace them with a national sales tax at a rate of 23 percent.
Cruz is a signer of American for Tax Reform’s “No New Taxes Pledge” and has co-sponsored a bill that would make the ban on Internet taxation (the ability for state and local governments to tax online retail sales and Internet access) permanent. Although he was not yet in the Senate when tax rates on upper-income Americans rose under the “fiscal cliff” deal, he announced he would have opposed them had he been in office.
As a senator still in his first term, Cruz has been active legislatively on the regulatory and labor front. Since coming into office in 2013, he’s co-sponsored bills that creates a full audit of the Federal Reserve system, requires congressional approval for major rules proposed by federal agencies (the REINS Act), requires an annual report determining the cost for federal regulation (known as Sen. Rubio’s National Regulatory Budget Act of 2014), repeals the Davis-Bacon Act (a longstanding statute that requires “prevailing wages” be paid on all federally funded projects, which means union wages), and implements right-to-work at the national level (making it illegal for employees to be fired for not joining a union – a national bill would make that the law in all 50 states).
Cruz has also announced his opposition to “net neutrality” regulations from the Federal Communications Commission, and as director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission during the George W. Bush administration authored a memo spelling out a number of areas where anticompetitive regulations and barriers to entry should be eliminated, including teacher certification, hospital accreditation, and cable television. He has pledged that if elected president he would use his executive authority to rein in many regulations.
Cruz has opposed federal regulation of fracking.
Cruz has co-sponsored legislation to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act (a longstanding statute that requires “prevailing wages” be paid on all federally funded projects, which means union wages), and implements right-to-work at the national level (making it illegal for employees to be fired for not joining a union – a national bill would make that the law in all 50 states).
Cruz has opposed federal regulation of fracking, has called on the Obama administration to expedite permits for liquid natural gas (LNG) exports (and considers American export of LNG as a way to supply countries like Ukraine, relieving them of their dependency on Russian gas), supports building the Keystone XL pipeline, and has co-sponsored a bill that would allow states to lease energy rights on federal land, including offshore drilling.
Cruz is opposed to cap-and-trade legislation and to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide. He has supported bills that would prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon emissions without congressional approval and co-sponsored a bill that would require the data determining that a species is endangered be published on the Internet. He has also co-sponsored a bill that would stop the EPA from expanding its authority under the Clean Water Act and its takeover of state and private waterways, along with requiring the EPA report the economic impacts of its proposed regulation under the Clean Air Act.
He is also the sponsor of an amendment that would limit the federal government’s ownership of land by prohibiting it from owning more than 50 percent of any land within one state and requiring it to transfer the excess land to the states or sell to the highest bidder. Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.
Cruz proposed in mid-November to eliminate five federal agencies and departments as part of his budget-cutting agenda: the IRS and the departments of Commerce, Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. He would also reduce the budgets for agencies he believes are “harming American households and businesses,” and he singled out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as one such agency. His campaign estimates this budget reduction would eliminate about $500 billion over 10 years. He also proposes a hiring freeze for federal employees.
Cruz harshly criticized the 2015 budget and debt-ceiling compromise reached in October 2015, calling it a “complete and utter surrender.” He also voted against raising the debt limit in October 2013, criticizing the convoluted process for the bill because it “avoids clear accountability” and didn’t include structural reforms. He also opposed the 2013 Ryan-Murray budget deal that increased spending in the short term in exchange for more cuts in future years.
Cruz has signed the “Contract From America,” a 10-point policy commitment that includes a balanced budget, limiting annual growth in federal spending, and a reduction in earmarks. He supports requiring a two-thirds majority vote to pass earmarks. He is also a co-sponsor of a bill that would amend the Constitution and require Congress to balance the federal budget, and he supports limiting federal spending growth to a per-capita inflation rate.
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One of Cruz’s key campaign platform items was to get rid of Obamacare, and he hasn’t stopped working toward that goal since being elected in November 2012. He held the fourth longest filibuster (21½ hours) in the history of the Senate while trying to persuade his Senate colleagues to include the defunding of Obamacare in the continuing resolution they needed in order to keep the federal government operating. The government shut down for 16 days as a result of the impasse, and ultimately the amendment to defund the health care statute was stripped.
Cruz also supports converting Medicaid into a block-grant program that would allow states to design and implement their own program.
Cruz supports allowing taxpayers to invest a portion of their Social Security funds in personal accounts that they own and control. Cruz supports gradually increasing the eligibility age for Medicare and allowing senior citizens to choose private plans available in the market. He also supports allowing Social Security to grow at the rate of inflation, as opposed to the current rate of 1 percent above inflation.
In a May 2014 Wall Street Journal interview, Cruz described himself as “an unambiguous advocate of free trade” and stated he supports the development of a free trade agreement with Ukraine. However, in June 2015 he wrote an op-ed saying he would vote against giving Obama the fast-track trade negotiating authority needed to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In mid-November 2015, Cruz proposed suspending the H-1B visa program that brings skilled foreign workers into the country legally. He pledged to stop any increase in legal immigration until domestic labor participation returns to what he called “historical averages.” This represented a reversal of his past support for increasing the number of H-1B visas and green cards.
Cruz authored an amendment in 2013 to the so-called “Gang of 8” immigration bill that would deny citizenship but grant legal status to many illegal immigrants, although Cruz says he has never supported granting legal status to illegal immigrants. After remaining silent for some time on the question of what to do with illegal immigrants currently in the country, he first pledged to increase deportations with a policy of “attrition through enforcement” and more recently said he would use the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to find those in the country illegally.
Cruz introduced legislation that would facilitate the expedited processing of unaccompanied minors coming in through the southern border and would require the secretary of defense to reimburse states for National Guard deployments in response to large-scale border crossings of unaccompanied alien children. He is a co-sponsor of legislation that would cut federal funds given to cities that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities, often called “sanctuary cities.”
He has consistently opposed proposals that create a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, including the DREAM Act. He does support a focus on securing the borders. He favors ending “birthright citizenship,” which gives U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal aliens born in the U.S. Doing so would require a constitutional amendment.
He said he would vote against giving Obama the fast-track trade negotiating authority needed to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership because the agreement might impact U.S. immigration laws.
On agriculture policy, Cruz has a limited track record. He has voted to limit the amount of subsidies available to farmers with incomes over $750,000 and has voted to end sugar subsidies and modest reforms in the current system. He opposed the 2013 Farm Bill because he felt it expanded the food stamp program too much and included programs unrelated to agriculture, such as green energy projects.
Cruz has consistently opposed corporate welfare, including the Export-Import Bank and a travel promotion campaign called Brand USA. Early in his Senate career he introduced legislation to immediately eliminate the renewable fuels standard (RFS), often considered a brand of corporate welfare for ethanol and biodiesel producers. In 2014 he again proposed eliminating the RFS, although this time he said it should be phased out over five years, and he has maintained that position ever since.
Cruz has voted in favor of farm subsidies, including a $3 billion crop insurance program in December 2015 that was scheduled to be eliminated under the budget deal.
Since coming into office in 2013, he has co-sponsored a bill that creates a full audit of the Federal Reserve. He also supports allowing small and medium-sized businesses to opt out of the accounting restrictions imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, and opposes Dodd-Frank’s regulations of financial institutions based on his view that they do nothing to prevent future taxpayer bailouts of failing firms while imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens.
Cruz is a strong supporter of the military and is an advocate for increased recruitment and for expanding the armed forces. He also authored an amicus brief in FAIR v. Rumsfeld, a case where he defended the ability of military recruiters to have equal access to university campuses that receive federal funds. Cruz criticized the Obama administration’s move to downsize the U.S. military, and he has proposed spending at least 4 percent of U.S. GDP on the military, which in 2015 would have meant about $718 billion in defense expenditures, compared with the $583 billion that was actually spent. His spending plans would include increasing the number of uniformed personnel by 80,000, an increase in the number of Navy vessels from 287 to 350, and an increase in the number of Air Force planes from 5,472 to 6,000.
He has also questioned why the U.S. military has a $7 billion alternative fuel budget. He argues that it should be using more affordable conventional fuel sources, especially at a time when resources are stretched.
Cruz said he would rely on the advice of military commanders regarding whether to continue to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the armed services, and he criticized the Pentagon’s decision to include transgender personnel, saying it took the military’s focus away from its mission and instead turned it into a “crucible for social justice innovations.” He called a proposal to require women to sign up for the draft as “nuts” and is strongly opposed to such a policy.
Cruz has been a strong critic of the National Security Agency. He feels it has been ineffective in identifying potential terror threats and not provided enough protection for law-abiding Americans. He has sponsored a bill that would end the NSA’s practice of bulk record collection and implement surveillance reforms, but he believes Apple should be required to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.
Cruz has rejected the idea that waterboarding is torture and therefore impermissible in all circumstances, although he also said its use shouldn’t be widespread and introduced legislation preventing line officers from employing it.
He has been supportive of Obama’s strikes against ISIS but has also called on the president to seek congressional approval for these actions. Cruz does not believe the U.S. should get further involved in the Syrian civil war, although he does favor “carpet bombing” ISIS and arming Kurdish forces. He has rejected calls for the U.S. to accept large numbers of refugees from Syria and the Middle East, although he has said the U.S. should be providing asylum for Christians threatened with persecution in the region.
In a December 2015 speech, Cruz explained his view that the U.S. should not be in the business of toppling dictatorial regimes, saying, “We will not win by replacing dictators, as unpleasant as they may be, with terrorists who want to destroy America… For as bad as [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad was and is, radical jihadis patrolling Syria would be a significant turn for the worse.”
Cruz has said that if he had known what we know now – that Iraq apparently had no weapons of mass destruction programs – he would not have chosen to go to war. And he criticized President George W. Bush by suggesting the U.S. should have left Iraq sooner.
Cruz has been highly critical of the advisory from former Attorney General Eric Holder’s office that said the White House would be within its legal authority to execute an American citizen via drone on U.S. soil if that person was suspected to be a threat to national security. During testimony before a Senate panel, Cruz was successful in getting Holder to admit that such actions would in fact be unconstitutional as it denied the American due process.
Cruz has sponsored legislation that would expand sanctions against Iran.
In March 2015 Cruz was among a group of 47 Republican senators who signed an open letter to the Iranian regime explaining any deal negotiated between the Obama administration and Tehran that was not approved by Congress could be undone by executive action of the next president. He has been a vociferous opponent of the deal that Iran and the U.S. finally agreed to in July 2015, calling it “catastrophic.”
Cruz, who has been a reliable ally of Israel, called for an end to U.S. support for the Palestinian Authority. In September 2014, Cruz left the stage after being booed during a speech at the “In Defense of Christians” summit in support of Middle East Christians. During the speech, he began to tell those present that they needed to support Israel and continued the message despite the audience’s growing boos. He stated, “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” and then left the stage.
Cruz has been harshly critical of Obama’s moves to improve relations with Cuba, calling the policy a “tragic mistake.” He has introduced legislation renaming the street where Cuba’s newly opened embassy is located in honor of a Cuban anti-Castro dissident who died under mysterious circumstances.
In his short tenure, Cruz has supported the installation of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe and has advocated that the U.S. be more outspoken in support of efforts to promote democracy in countries like Venezuela.
Cruz believes allowing liquid natural gas exports is a way to free European countries such as Ukraine from their dependency on Russian gas.
Prior to his campaign for the Senate, Cruz was perhaps best known for his argument (and victory) at the Supreme Court in Van Orden v. Perry – the case that determined the monument featuring the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol was constitutional and could remain in place.
Cruz has frequently attacked the Supreme Court for judicial activism, calling the results of such activism “tragic” and “lawless.” He is especially concerned about this in the Supreme Court and has proposed a constitutional amendment that would establish regular retention elections for Supreme Court justices.
Cruz expressed support for the court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and accused the Democrats of “abandoning the Bill of Rights” in criticizing the decision. He criticized the Roe v. Wade decision for not following the Constitution, and in the wake of the court’s recent decisions in King (Obamacare tax credits) and Obergefell (same-sex marriage), Cruz has called for a constitutional amendment that would require Supreme Court justices to face a retention election every eight years.
If elected, Cruz has promised to nominate “strict constructionist” judges that have “a solid paper trail” to prove their credentials. Cruz currently serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He praised a Supreme Court decision generally seen as scaling back affirmative action, saying college admissions policies should seek to expand opportunities for minorities and low-income students without resorting to racial preferences.
Cruz is a staunch advocate of gun rights. As solicitor general of Texas he brought together 31 states to sign onto an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case arguing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. He is the recipient of an annual award from the National Rifle Association meant to recognize “exemplary activities in the support and protection of the right to keep and bear arms.” He opposed expanded background checks and an assault weapon ban proposed in 2013, and was part of an unsuccessful filibuster effort to prevent the bill from being brought up (the bill ultimately failed).
With the exception of the endangerment of a mother’s life, Cruz is opposed to abortion and also opposes public funding for abortions. He has co-sponsored bills that banned abortions performed after 20 weeks and prohibited the transportation of minors across state lines for the purpose of an abortion. As solicitor general of Texas he successfully argued cases before the Supreme Court upholding parental notification laws and a ban on the late-term procedure known as partial-birth abortion.
Cruz has said he believes the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman but has argued it is up to each individual state to decide and not a matter for the federal government. He also has said the federal government should not have to recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple from a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. He favors a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue and allow each state to decide for itself whether to recognize same-sex marriage.
Prior to his campaign for the Senate, Cruz was perhaps best known for his argument (and victory) at the Supreme Court in Van Orden v. Perry – the case that determined the monument featuring the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol was constitutional and could remain in place.
Cruz has a long history of defending the First Amendment, most of which came from his time as solicitor general in Texas. He argued (and won) cases such as allowing the state of Texas to keep its 10 Commandments monument displayed outside the state Capitol and allowing the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial, a large cross honoring U.S. military veterans, to remain on public lands in California. Cruz has co-sponsored a bill that prohibits the federal government from punishing an individual who discriminates against a same-sex couple for religious reasons.
In a shot at campaign finance laws such as McCain-Feingold and the DISCLOSE Act, Cruz sponsored a bill that would require that any law that restricts political speech of American citizens be applicable, with equal force, to media corporations. Another Cruz-sponsored bill eliminated the limits on direct contributions to candidates in federal elections but in turn would require reporting of that contribution within 24 hours for contributions over $200. He demanded that then-Attorney General Eric Holder appoint a special prosecutor to look into charges the IRS had targeted conservative nonprofits in an attempt to silence them before the 2012 election.
As a student at Princeton, Cruz wrote his undergraduate senior thesis on the history of the Ninth and 10th Amendments. The Ninth Amendment states that the people have many more rights that what is expressly outlined in Constitution. The 10th Amendment “reserves unspecified powers for the states.” In his thesis he writes, “The Tenth [Amendment] stops new powers, and the Ninth fortifies all other rights, or non-powers” and feels that these rights have been trampled on by “decades of jurisprudence.” He is listed as 10th Amendment expert for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Austin.
Cruz has signed the “Contract From America,” a 10-point policy commitment that includes a balanced budget, limiting annual growth in federal spending, and a reduction in earmarks.
Cruz believes that education decisions, like many other important issues, should be made at the state level and not by the federal government. He is a supporter of school choice and charter schools, and he co-sponsored legislation to allow Title I federal education funds to be used at the public or private school chosen by parents. Cruz is also “emphatically opposed” to federal Common Core standards.