Cruz votes against proposal to call religious test un-American

Getty Images
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday voted against a proposal that would oppose using a person's religion as a reason to deny them entry into the country. 
 
Cruz, a Republican candidate for president, was one of four senators to vote against the nonbinding amendment from Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate spending bill blocks international climate funding Senate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate MORE (D-Vt.) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Though Cruz was not at the meeting, he voted "no" by proxy. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The committee voted 16-4 on Leahy's proposal, which would give the Senate's backing to the idea that the U.S. government "must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion." 
 
The vote comes days after GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump caused a political firestorm by calling for a blanket ban on allowing Muslims into the United States. 
 
While many congressional Republicans have rebuked the businessman's comments, they've also been reluctant to say they won't support Trump if he wins the party's presidential nomination. 
 
Cruz said earlier this week that he disagreed with Trump's proposal. 
 
Leahy on Thursday said the vote on his amendment would allow lawmakers to go "formally on the record" against a Trump-style religious ban. 
 
"We want to make it very clear that this is not what the United States does," Leahy added. 
 
Phil Novack, Cruz's spokesman, said that Leahy's amendment boiled down to a "political stunt.”

"A nuclear terrorism bill is not the place for political games, which is why after voting against Senator Leahy’s amendment, Senator Cruz voted for the Nuclear Terrorism bill to protect Americans against this grave threat," he added.
 
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who voted against the proposal, said that Leahy's amendment was overly broad, adding that it represents a "reckless" and "extreme vision" that would "constitute a transformation of our immigration system."
 
"There's nothing in the Leahy amendment that mentioned Islam or Trump," he added. "[It] goes beyond what we've done before."
 
—Last updated at 8:28 p.m.

More in Senate

Senate approves wide-ranging defense policy bill

Read more »