Mr. Cruz has earned praise from several lawmakers as an unlikely consensus builder among hard-right and moderate Republicans as the party sought (and, at least initially, failed) to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. He has dined with colleagues from across the Senate majority.
He has moved even Mr. McConnell to lurch toward a compliment.
“From working to find a path forward to repeal and replace Obamacare with common-sense market reforms to responding to one of the worst disasters Texas has seen, Ted’s been a constructive player trying to get results,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement on Thursday.
Others are still inclined to hedge on Mr. Cruz’s merits.
Asked last month whether Mr. Cruz had returned to the Senate a changed man after his presidential campaign, Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, allowed that “some people might say that.”
Asked if he counted himself among those “some people,” Mr. Wicker repeated himself.