Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules MORE (R-Texas), in a challenge to fellow Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump considering pardon for boxing legend after call from Sylvester Stallone GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos MORE (Ariz.), said Thursday there are “more wacko birds in the Senate than suspected.”

ADVERTISEMENT
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 PaulPompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel CIA declassifies memo on nominee's handling of interrogation tapes Overnight Defense: House to begin work on defense policy bill | Panel to vote Monday on Pompeo | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump appeals decision blocking suspected combatant's transfer 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 AmashSome doubt McCarthy or Scalise will ever lead House GOP McCarthy faces obstacles in Speaker bid House Freedom Caucus flexes muscle in Speaker's race 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 McCaskillPompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State 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 ReidGOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination The Memo: Teens rankle the right with gun activism 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.