Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSasse statement: Trump nominee who spread conspiracy theories has a ‘tinfoil hat’ Coalition of 44 groups calls for passage of drug pricing bill For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering MORE (R-Texas), in a challenge to fellow Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Meghan McCain: Melania is 'my favorite Trump, by far' Kelly says Trump not likely to extend DACA deadline MORE (Ariz.), said Thursday there are “more wacko birds in the Senate than suspected.”

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Speaking Thursday on the Senate floor, Cruz dismissed warnings from McCain about the dangers of Republicans blocking a budget committee conference. 

Referring to a now-infamous McCain slight against Cruz and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Rand Paul calls for punishment if Congress can't reach a long-term budget deal MORE (R-Ky.), the Texas senator said his Arizona colleague has suggested that those blocking a budget committee conference are “wacko birds” and are a “small minority of the minority.”

“It’s been suggested that we are wacko birds,” Cruz said on the Senate floor Thursday. “If that is the case, there might be more wacko birds in the Senate than suspected.”

McCain in March branded Cruz, Paul and Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: House votes to renew surveillance program | More drones, troops headed to Afghanistan | Former officers urge lawmakers to curb Trump's nuclear powers Overnight Tech: House votes to reauthorize surveillance powers | Twitter on defensive after Project Veritas video | Senate panel to hold hearing on bitcoin Overnight Cybersecurity: House votes to renew NSA spying | Trump tweets spark confusion | Signs Russian hackers are targeting Olympics | Bannon expected to appear before House Intel panel MORE (R-Mich.) as "wacko birds on the right," a statement made after Paul conducted a talking filibuster over President Obama's drone policy. He later apologized for comments he said were inappropriate. 

Cruz’s remarks Thursday came after Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races McCaskill challenger links human trafficking to 'sexual revolution' of 1960s MORE (D-Mo.) asked for unanimous consent to form a budget committee conference to work out the differences between the House and Senate budgets. 

For an 11th time, a GOP senator objected unless the conferees were prohibited from addressing the debt ceiling.

Cruz said he was worried that the majority would try to raise the debt ceiling through budget reconciliation rules, which allow just 51 votes for passage.

McCain has criticized members of his party for obstructing the budget process.

“What is being done here, if we agree that a small number of senators could basically change the way the Senate does business, it could have serious ramifications in the future,” McCain said.

But Cruz said McCain is assuming more GOP senators agree with McCain than Cruz. Cruz said he had the American people on his side because they are sick of Congress racking up more debt for future generations.

“Should the Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo end sugar subsidies, conservatives can't launch a frontal attack House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations MORE [D-Nev.] be allowed to raise the debt ceiling with 51 votes — that’s the issue,” Cruz said. “The American people want us to fix the problem and stop digging the debt hole deeper and deeper.”

On Wednesday, Cruz said he didn’t trust members of his own party to negotiate a budget committee conference report because both parties have over spent in the past.