(Business Insider) – Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is facing a growing backlash from congressional colleagues who say he was partly responsible for the riot at the US Capitol last Wednesday, with reports suggesting he could face a formal censure.
There have been multiple calls for Cruz to resign since he spoke on the Senate floor last week to argue for an audit of November’s presidential election — part of a wider effort to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory in favor of President Donald Trump. Shortly after Cruz’s speech, hundreds of Trump supporters breached police lines and stormed the Capitol building.
Cruz’s communications director, Lauren Blair Bianchi, resigned in response to Cruz’s efforts to overturn the election result, Punchbowl News reported on Tuesday. A source close to Bianchi told the publication that the senator was “moving in a direction that she was not comfortable with.”
Several Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Patty Murray, Chris Coons, Sherrod Brown, and Sheldon Whitehouse, have called for Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley to resign, citing the senators’ vocal opposition to the certification of the election result before the violence at the Capitol last week.
Democratic aides told The Hill on Tuesday that some senators were also discussing censuring Cruz and Hawley for their roles in opposing the certification.
“More and more Democratic caucus members are willing to vote yes on a censure resolution,” one aide told The Hill.
A Senate censure would require a majority vote, though no GOP senator has expressed support for such a move. While a censure would not result in the expulsion of a senator, it represents a formal statement of disapproval from their colleagues, which could prove damaging to the senator’s political ambitions.
Hawley and Cruz have long been considered likely contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.
Whitehouse has also called for Cruz, Hawley, and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who reportedly supported efforts to reject the election certification, to be barred from any committee that might investigate the riot at the Capitol.
“The Senate Ethics Committee also must consider the expulsion, or censure and punishment, of Senators Cruz, Hawley, and perhaps others,” Whitehouse said in a statement on Monday.
“Because Congress has protections from the Department of Justice under separation of powers, specifically the Speech and Debate Clause, significant investigation will need to be done in the Senate. Because of massive potential conflict of interest, Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Johnson (at least) need to be off all relevant committees,” Whitehouse added.
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, went further, suggesting Cruz could be put on the no-fly list maintained by the FBI, designed to prevent terrorists and terrorism suspects from boarding US flights.
“There’s no exemption for being put on the no-fly list,” Thompson said on Monday in an interview on SiriusXM, Law & Crime reported.
He added: “Even a member of Congress that commits a crime, you know, they expel from the body. There are ethics charges that can be brought against those individuals. And people are looking at all this. What Hawley did and what Cruz did was horrible.”