Cruz: I didn't want to throw GOP under bus

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday said that he did not want to throw any of his colleagues under the bus by forcing a 60-vote threshold on a bill to raise the debt ceiling earlier this month. 

Cruz said in a CNN interview that he heard criticism from colleagues over the tactic, but the possible 2016 White House contender was unrepentant.

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“I'll tell you my response,” Cruz told Dana Bash. “My response is I don't want to throw any Republicans under the bus. I would like to see all 45 Republicans stand together and actually do what we tell our constituents.”

Cruz's filibuster forced the Senate to win 60 votes to move the debt ceiling bill forward after its approval by the House. 

Initially, the GOP could only muster a few votes, until Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is in a tough primary, cast a difficult vote in favor of proceeding. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), McConnell's second-in-command who is also facing a primary, also voted in favor of ending debate.

McConnell's primary opponent immediately scolded the leader for the vote, and conservatives groups fired at McConnell.

But the vote led a handful of other Republicans to switch their votes to "yes."

None of the votes would have been necessary but for Cruz's insistence: if he'd backed off the filibuster, a majority-only vote in the Democratic-controlled chamber would have been needed to approve the bill. 

In the end, the debt-ceiling hike's final passage came on a party-line 55-43 vote.

Cruz described the procedural vote to end debate as a "show vote" and blamed such “trickery” for Congress’s low approval rating. 

“What Republican leadership said is we want this to pass, but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes, then we can all cast a vote 'no' and we can go home to our constituents and say we opposed it,” he said.

Cruz said he wants to win back the Senate, but the GOP will lose if it does not stand for anything. 

Cruz has caught the ire of a number of Republicans throughout his tenure, going back to his vocal endorsement of a plan last year to tie the healthcare law to government funding, which eventually led to a government shutdown.  

Despite the rift, he said most interactions with his colleagues are cordial. 

“So every interaction that I have with every senator, Republican or Democrat, is consistently civil, courteous, respectful, treating them with — with the dignity that they deserve,” he said.