Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was denied his chance to perform an actual filibuster Friday afternoon, as the Senate voted to end debate on a bill that keeps the government open, by a margin of 79-19. Senate Democrats then voted unanimously in favor of an amendment removing the language that defunds Obamacare, before the Senate passed the final legislation 54-44. The government is now funded through November 15 at an annual level of $986 billion.
“Today the Republican Party has been infected by a small destructive faction,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, as the Senate considered ending debate. “These extremists are more interested in putting on a show, as one Republican colleague put it, than legislating.”
Reid was quoting Republican senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who called out Cruz on the floor of the Senate for preventing this vote from taking place on Thursday, thus making a government shutdown more likely.
Only 18 senators — Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Richard Shelby (R-AL), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and David Vitter (R-LA) — joined with Cruz against ending debate, even though right-wing organizations including FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth are “scoring” votes for proceeding as negative considerations for their future support.
The junior senator from Texas would have needed the support of 40 of his colleagues for an actual filibuster.
Both the House and the Senate need to agree on a continuing resolution or the government will be shut down on October 1 for the first time since the Clinton administration.
If the House alters the bill in any way, it will have to return to the Senate for another vote.
National Review‘s Robert Costa reports that Cruz is working with his allies in the House to prevent the amended legislation passed Friday by the Senate from becoming law. The senator is demanding a delay of the Affordable Care Act for at least one year in exchange for funding the government. He and his allies are reportedly even whipping votes against Speaker John Boehner’s debt limit plan that includes a wish list of Republican proposals in exchange for preventing a debt default.
Cruz and his colleague Lee could likely tie up the Senate if Congress has to reconsider the bill, forcing at least a short-term government shutdown. As you probably know by now, if the government shuts down, Obamacare will still be funded.
The Republican Party remains torn between those who believe they need to win a presidential election to repeal Obamacare and those who want to do so now, regardless of precedent or cost to their party.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com