Ted Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez team up to combat corruption in Washington

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Teamwork makes the dream work, the saying goes, and the latest burgeoning partnership in Congress certainly seems like one that might only happen in a dream. Conservative Sen. Ted Cruz and liberal firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say they're teaming up to drain the swamp.

The unlikely pair share the popular opinion that Washington is corrupt, and needs to be reformed.

On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted an analysis by Public Citizen which found that nearly 60% of former members of the previous Congress who have taken jobs outside of politics — including Ocasio-Cortez's predecessor, Joe Crowley — are now working as lobbyists or influencing policy in some way. Certain laws prevent members of Congress from lobbying for a certain period of time, but they are loosely enforced.

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"If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn't be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. "I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period."

If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check.

I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress.

At minimum there should be a long wait period. https://t.co/xMu9Mwmdm6

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 30, 2019

Cruz then replied to Ocasio-Cortez's proposal, writing in his own tweet: "Here's something I don't say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC."

"Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?" Cruz wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez took it a step further, asking the Republican senator to join forces to pass a bill prohibiting former members of Congress from becoming paid lobbyists.

"Let's make a deal. If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc – just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists – then I'll co-lead the bill with you," Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

[email protected] if you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down.

Let’s make a deal.

If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc – just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists – then I’ll co-lead the bill with you. https://t.co/AZTbmdSexv

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 30, 2019

Cruz's reply was simple: "You're on."

The strange bedfellows were soon joined by other members of Congress who typically disagree. Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz tweeted that he was "IN," and presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet also expressed support.

Rep. Chip Roy, the Republican who single-handedly blocked the major disaster relief bill from passing the House earlier this week, also wrote that he was "Happy to lead or otherwise co-sponsor in the House."

"Okay, with @brianschatz + @tedcruz we've got at least one D-R team in the Senate to ban members becoming lobbyists, & myself w/ @chiproytx makes at least one D-R team in the House. And that's just in a few hours – there will surely be more from both parties to sign on. Nice," Ocasio-Cortez wrote, adding a thumbs-up emoji.

Okay, with @brianschatz + @tedcruz we’ve got at least one D-R team in the Senate to ban members becoming lobbyists, & myself w/ @chiproytx makes at least one D-R team in the House.

And that’s just in a few hours – there will surely be more from both parties to sign on.

Nice 👍🏽 https://t.co/52r8cL7RBR

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 30, 2019

Although she has become a progressive icon on the left, Ocasio-Cortez has shown willingness to reach across the aisle. Also on Thursday, she quote-tweeted a video on Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson supporting her push to end "one strike" rules targeting public housing tenants for eviction over minor drug offenses.

"So often, bipartisanship is marketed as: a) something only "centrist moderates" are capable of, or b) giving up your principles to "get things done,"" Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "I couldn't disagree more. You don't have to abandon your principles to agree. Being curious about other people's values helps, too."

If the Twitter confab translates into action, Congress's unlikeliest pair could fulfill a promise that lawmakers often make and break: to clean up Washington.

First published on May 31, 2019 / 10:51 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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