Cruz to McCain: There are 'more wacko birds in the Senate than suspected'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in a challenge to fellow Republican Sen. John McCain (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 Paul (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 Amash (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 McCaskill (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 Reid [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.