Ted Cruz, Better Known For Derailing Bills, Tries on a New Hat: Legislator

Senator Ted Cruz is rebranding — at least for now.

The Texas Republican, whose opening salvo as a freshman senator in 2013 was leading the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act, has earned a reputation in Congress as a rabble-rousing, uncompromising conservative firebrand who tends more toward obstinance and anti-establishment tirades than bipartisanship or teamwork.

But for the first time this week, Mr. Cruz, now the senior Republican on the Commerce Committee, embraced a wholly unfamiliar role: managing a major piece of legislation on the Senate floor. It came as Mr. Cruz, who is running for re-election in November, is trying to moderate his reputation in Texas and present himself as capable of bipartisanship.

As the ranking G.O.P. member of the committee of jurisdiction, Mr. Cruz this week found himself responsible for helping to deliver the five-year, multibillion-dollar reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration to improve air travel and address passenger woes at a time of intense uncertainty about the system. That involved protecting the package from the sort of legislative and procedural bombs he has lobbed proudly throughout his career.

The irony of his turnabout was not lost on his colleagues.

“I will admit that I’ve had a couple of chuckles about it,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said with a smile.

It thrust Mr. Cruz into some uncharted territory as he worked to pass the bill, which finally glided through the Senate on Thursday night just before a Friday deadline, after he worked with Democrats to bat down an array of amendments that could have complicated its path to enactment.

The Texas senator attended a G.O.P. leadership meeting on Tuesday, working with Republicans like Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, for whom he has long been a thorn in the side.

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