Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative movement star, wants to team up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the rising star among Democratic ’ progressives.
It won’t be easy.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, offered on Twitter to join the New York Democrat on a “simple, clean” bill that would make birth control available for sale over the counter.
Cruz has not elaborated on what a “simple, clean” bill would look like, but Ocasio-Cortez told McClatchy she was concerned that a Republican-backed measure would not include provisions for insurance coverage for over-the-counter birth control.
She was also worried that that backing a “pure, clean” bill to make birth control available for sale over the counter could make the contraceptives too expensive for many Americans to afford. It’s not clear if a bill would maintain the current law requiring insurance coverage for birth control with a prescription.
This wasn’t the first time Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez have tried to team up.
Last month, they agreed on Twitter to work to introduce a bill that would ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.
Cruz, a second term senator, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Though he lost to President Donald Trump, he won a big following among staunch conservatives.
Ocasio-Cortez won her first congressional term last year, upsetting veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley. Her outspokenness and liberal views have made her immensely popular with some Democrats.
It’s unclear why Cruz approached Ocasio-Cortez about the birth control effort, and his office did not return requests for comment.
But the initiative has been a hit on social media. Twitter exchanges between the two have have gotten thousands of shares and lots of media coverage.
Finding agreement on the birth control bill will be tough. In most states, birth control is only available via a doctor’s visit and subsequent prescription. The cost of most forms of prescription birth control currently can be covered by health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
“I think when we talk about price, that’s the rubbing point with Republicans,” Ocascio-Cortez said. “If they just want to make a clean, over-the-counter bill but they don’t want to make adjustments for the current methods of affordability, then birth control is going to cost hundreds of dollars a month and it’s going to defeat the purpose and it’s going to make the situation worse.”
In 2014, Republicans proposed legislation that would make birth control available for sale over the counter. The bill lacked provisions that would require the price to be covered by health insurance. Democrats and advocacy groups criticized the bill and called it a Republican ploy to diminish the Affordable Care Act, since the law does not mandate that all over-the-counter medicines be covered by insurance.
Ocasio-Cortez never directly responded to Cruz’s birth control bill offer on Twitter, but Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts told Cruz that he should support her bill. It would allow over-the-counter sale of birth control while adding insurance requirements, since there is currently no federal law that mandates over-the-counter birth control be covered by insurance. Ocasio-Cortez joined Pressley in introducing the bill.
When asked if he supported Pressley’s bill on Thursday, Cruz referred back to his original tweet.
“As I tweeted I support policy of allowing birth control pills to be sold over the counter and I’m happy to work with anybody to get a simple clean bill,” Cruz said.
He has not said publicly if he supports Pressley’s bill or a companion bill that was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington.