WHAT WE ARE UP AGAINST
Ted Cruz, Mike Lee ... SQUELCHED
by [GOP] Leaders
by [GOP] Leaders
The Rift Between Mitch McConnell
and Ted Cruz Widens.
|Senator Cruz arrives Sunday on Capitol Hill|
7/26/15 1:52 PM EDT Updated 7/27/15 10:29 AM EDT
Ted Cruz just wanted a roll-call vote on Sunday. Instead, he got a smackdown.
Republican leaders, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), delivered what senators described as punishment for Cruz’s brazen floor tactics — the Texas senator first accused McConnell of lying and later sought to change Senate procedures in order to push for an Iran-related amendment.
So when Cruz came to the floor looking for at least 11 senators to agree to hold a roll-call vote, only three raised their hands. McConnell, sitting at his desk, turned around and peered at Cruz, who looked stunned at what had just happened. The Senate dispensed with his effort by a voice vote and quickly moved on, doing the same to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Cruz ally who sought to use arcane procedures to force a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.
It all went down in an instant, but the message was clear: If Cruz doesn’t want to play nice with his Republican colleagues, they will respond in kind.
“You learn that in kindergarten: You learn to work well together and play by the rules,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a close McConnell ally who was beaming after Cruz and Lee were handed such lopsided defeats. “Another thing you learn in kindergarten is to respect one another.”
The rebuke was the latest in an increasingly testy rivalry marked by accusations of deceit and grandstanding. Cruz, who is running for president, has sought to use his battles with his colleagues — on everything from the 2013 government shutdown to last year’s battle over the debt ceiling — to tell conservatives that he’s the one candidate who will take on an entrenched party leadership. But Republican senators view Cruz as a divisive figure who is only seeking to lift his profile by waging war with his colleagues.
Cruz, his voice rising, tore into McConnell just off the Senate floor.
“Granting a sufficient second for a roll-call vote is done customarily in the United States Senate,” Cruz told reporters. “Denying it is extraordinary, and it was done as a consequence of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being afraid of this issue.”
He accused McConnell of scheming with Democratic leader Harry Reid.
“To see the so-called Republican leader whip against allowing a vote to defund Planned Parenthood … makes clear that the McConnell-Reid leadership is united in favor of Big Government,” Cruz charged.
The dispute stems from McConnell’s move on Friday to prioritize two amendments to a bipartisan highway bill: one that would revive the Export-Import Bank and another to repeal Obamacare, both at a 60-vote threshold. Renewing the charter of the Ex-Im Bank has the support of more than 60 senators and the business community. But Cruz and other conservatives say the bank amounts to corporate welfare.
The Senate voted 67-26 to move toward attaching a renewal of the bank charter to a must-pass highway bill. The Obamacare effort failed on party lines, 49-43.
The battle over the government agency stemmed from negotiations over a major trade bill in May. To win the support of three holdouts — Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) — McConnell promised that an effort to extend the Export-Import Bank’s charter would get a vote on the Senate floor.
But in Cruz’s telling, McConnell “looked” him and “every” member of the Senate Republican Conference in the eye and promised that the only assurance he gave was that the senators could offer the bank plan as an amendment on the floor.
On Friday, McConnell took procedural steps to allow the bank plan to be offered as an amendment to the highway bill. Afterward, in a fiery floor speech Friday, Cruz accused McConnell of telling a “flat-out lie” by shifting his plans to move the bank measure.
Republicans were taken aback, noting that the Senate has rules barring members from impugning the integrity of another senator — much less a party leader.
“I think it was a violation of the rules,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “It’s not how you treat a colleague regardless of how you feel.”
Tillis and several other GOP senators said Cruz’s rhetoric backfired. “Generally speaking,” Tillis said, senators declined to give him a roll-call vote because they disapproved of his name-calling and the risky precedent his tactics would set if he were successful in forcing a vote. A senior Republican senator said refusing to give Cruz a vote was not a coordinated strategy by the leadership: It came about after GOP senators discussed the matter quietly on the floor.
It was a “sign of displeasure” with Cruz, another top Republican said.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said of Cruz calling McConnell a liar. “I know emotions run high on issues in the Senate, and those are the times when I think we have to take special care to abide by the rules of the Senate, particularly Rule 19, which is very clear that no senator is to impugn the integrity of another senator.”
Cruz denied that he violated any rules. And he lashed out at the Capitol Hill press corps for not investigating whether McConnell lied.
“In the entire course of this debate neither the majority leader nor any other senator has denied that he looked me in the eye and he looked every other Republican senator in the eye, and he flat-out said” there was “no deal on the Export-Import Bank. But he answered the subsequent question: Will you do anything to press it forward and press a vote?
“He told us this: I haven’t given them anything, I told them they could do what any other senator did. But what we saw on Friday is that statement was on its face objectively false.”
Cruz added: “There have been no stories about whether Mitch McConnell told the truth.”
In interviews, several Republican senators said they could not recall a confrontation between McConnell and Cruz in a party lunch, as Cruz described it on Friday. They also said they were not surprised that McConnell forced a vote on the Export-Import Bank because he’s been saying he would for weeks, publicly and privately.
“There was no misunderstanding,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
Similarly, Graham said that he went to the floor and told reporters on the day of the trade vote what the deal was: that McConnell would let proponents attach the Ex-Im Bank plan to the highway bill.
“Unless you have been completely missing in action, you’d know this day was coming,” Graham said. “I did a press release and floor statement” reiterating McConnell’s promises.
“I think he’s going down a road very few senators go,” Graham said of Cruz.
“Let’s even assume that he’s right, which he wasn’t, you still don’t do that,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said of Cruz’s floor antics. “My understanding is that Mitch McConnell told us what he was going to do.”
On Friday, Cruz announced his plans to push for his separate Iran amendment that sanctions on the country could not be lifted until the country recognizes Israel’s right to exist and frees four American hostages. His argument: If the leadership can attach unrelated amendments like the Ex-Im measure, senators should be allowed to move on the Iran amendment, as well.
But the process he employed sparked major concerns among Republicans, who worried it would set a dangerous precedent, throw the Senate’s procedures into disarray — and be difficult to explain to voters.
Then Lee tried to push through a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. That, too, failed to muster enough support for a vote. On Monday, Lee is expected to try to repeal Obamacare with a simple majority vote of 51 senators, effectively circumventing the 60-vote requirement to break a filibuster after Democrats defeated an attempt to repeal the health care law on Sunday.
Cruz’s Texas colleague pointedly shot down his effort. Sen. John Cornyn, the GOP’s chief vote-counter, called Cruz’s strategy “a terrible mistake” and urged Republicans to vote against it, a rare public disagreement.
“If the rule that the junior senator from Texas is arguing for is embraced, we will lose all control of the Senate schedule. There will be chaos,” Cornyn said. “Any senator who wants to get a vote on an amendment will be entitled to do so and that can’t be the rule. It’s not the rule. It’s never been the rule.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/senate-obamacare-repeal-ted-cruz-mike-lee-120637.html#ixzz3h7ZWjBkB
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