The Texas Republican was imploring fellow GOP members to block money for Obama's immigration action as part of the upcoming legislative battle to fund the government by the Dec. 11 deadline or risk a federal shutdown.
"What I'm urging my fellow Republicans to do is very, very simple," Cruz said, his speech punctuated by cheers from the modest crowd, including a man dressed in a Revolutionary period patriot outfit.
"We will fund the operation of the federal government, but we will not allocate taxpayer dollars for lawless and illegal amnesty."
Last year, the Texas senator's ability to influence core conservatives drew jokes that he'd become "Speaker Cruz," rivaling the power of actual House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
Fresh from that episode, the Cruz clout began to dim.
Led by Boehner, the House Republican leaders are also offering a parallel bill that would simply oppose Obama's actions. That legislation would be largely symbolic, since Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, has said he would not bring it forward in the Senate. But it could allow opponents of the president an opportunity to register their displeasure with his immigration plan.