How Cruz the Outsider Won Purple Hearts for Fort Hood Victims

The U.S. flag flew at half staff over the U.S. Capitol in honor of the victims of the 2009 shooting at Ft. Hood in Texas. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly File Photo)

Updated 7:40 p.m. | On Ted Cruz's Senate office wall hangs a framed copy of one of the Texas Republican's proudest legislative accomplishments. And like the outsider persona he touts on the presidential campaign trail, Cruz eventually voted against the bill that made it happen.  

Cruz added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last year in the Armed Services committee that ultimately awarded the Purple Heart to victims of the 2009 massacre at the Fort Hood military facility in Texas. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 injured.  

Cruz had offered the amendment every year since arriving in the Senate in 2013, uniting with fellow Republican Sen. John Cornyn and other members of the Texas delegation against the Pentagon’s distinction that the shooting was “workplace violence.” And while Cruz received much of the credit after the amendment finally passed, Cornyn and Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, had been pushing for similar legislation since 2009.  

"The Obama Pentagon fought tooth and nail against that," Cruz said in an interview last week. "They insisted the attack was workplace violence. And they refused for nearly five years to award those Purple Hearts."  

Obama Expected to Sign NDAA 

But Cruz has a particular quirk, in that he has voted against the defense policy bill every year he's been in the Senate, despite supporting many of the bill's provisions. By doing so, he is honoring a campaign promise to oppose an existing provision that allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without due process in certain instances.  

"I could not vote for this bill because I made a promise when I was elected to office that I would not vote for any NDAA that continued to allow the president to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens," Cruz said following a defense authorization NDAA vote last month.  

Despite voting against final passage, Cruz celebrates the victory. In April of this year, he attended the ceremony awarding the medals with the victims' families.  

"And each one of those family members, I took the opportunity to look them in the eyes, to thank them for their service and their family member’s service and simply to say I’m sorry this took five years for this to happen," Cruz said.