If Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wanted to divide the GOP and put House Republicans in an impossible position, he’s already succeeded.
The junior senator, along with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and right-wing groups like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, spent all summer rousing the GOP base for a fight to defund Obamacare. He’s convinced the Tea Party (and no one else) and compelled House Republicans to vote to defund the Affordable Care Act.
He’s won! And now he would be in an ideal situation to defund Obamacare — if only he had 60 votes in the Senate and a president willing to sign his bill.
But of course, he doesn’t. 🙁
So now Cruz’s bill is about to hit the Senate. For months, he has been selling the GOP base on a simple and false premise: Obamacare could be ended today if the Republican leadership would just do it.
Since there simply aren’t enough Republicans in Congress to make that happen, Cruz’s message really is: If we absolutely refuse to compromise, if we shut down the government, if we refuse to raise the debt limit, if we hold our breath till the economy turns blue, we can get anything we want without even having to win presidential elections.
The truth is, Republican leaders don’t seem to want a shutdown for even a day — and they know that Cruz’s plan would destroy the GOP before it destroys Obamacare.
With just about a week before the government is set to shut down, Cruz is in a battle with House Republicans for who will get the blame when this ridiculous plan eventually fails. Here’s how the scenario is likely to play out:
Because Democrats control the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will is set to make the House’s bill that funds the government and defunds the Affordable Care Act “fully debatable on both ends.”
That means it will require 60 votes heading into the Senate and 60 votes going out for it to pass.
There are 54 senators caucusing with the Democrats, so at least six Republicans will have to join with the majority to open debate on the bill. That likely won’t be a big deal since the bill is what the GOP wants as it enters the Senate.
Then Reid will allow amendments to the bill that only require 51 votes to pass. So, with a simple majority, Democrats will remove the part that defunds the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. Some Democrats will pressure Reid to advance another amendment to restore the sequester cuts to research and social services. He’ll likely skip that since passing it would give Republicans something to use to blame Democrats in case of a shutdown.
So now the bill no longer defunds Obamacare. What will Ted Cruz do then?