McConnell splits with Cruz on ObamaCare defunding tactic

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) broke with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Monday and said he would oppose a filibuster of House legislation defunding ObamaCare.

McConnell said he would not block the bill from coming to a final vote because it includes language to strip funding from President Obama’s signature healthcare law while keeping current government funding levels in place.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Sen. McConnell supports the House Republicans’ bill and will not vote to block it, since it defunds ObamaCare and funds the government without increasing spending by a penny,” said a spokesman for the GOP leader.

McConnell pledged to vote against any amendment pushed by Senate Democrats to take the provisions to defund ObamaCare out of the bill.

“He will also vote against any amendment that attempts to add ObamaCare funding back into the House Republicans’ bill,” said McConnell’s spokesman. 

Cruz and some conservative groups have pressured Republican senators to filibuster the House bill to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from setting up a vote to eliminate the ObamaCare language adopted by the House.

“If Reid pursues this plan — if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund ObamaCare with a partisan vote of only Democrats — then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add ObamaCare funding back in,” Cruz said in a statement Friday.

McConnell, however, believes Democrats will suffer a public backlash by voting to restore funding for ObamaCare, which polls show is largely unpopular.

“If and when the majority leader goes down that path, Washington Democrats will have to decide — without hiding behind a procedural vote — whether or not to split with their leadership and join Republicans and their constituents in opposing the reinsertion of ObamaCare funding into the House-passed bill,” the McConnell aide said.

The announcement prompted an immediate rebuke from conservative talk show host Mark Levin.

“The GOP leadership reportedly setting stage to deceive and capitulate,” he posted on Twitter.

Heritage Action for America, a conservative advocacy group, called on senators over the weekend to filibuster the legislation to limit Reid’s procedural options.

“If opponents of ObamaCare unite against Reid’s procedural power play by denying cloture, the language defunding ObamaCare will remain intact, proving that the Senate cannot move a [continuing resolution] that funds ObamaCare,” the group wrote in an alert.  

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) also split with Cruz Monday.

“I intend to support the House bill that defunds ObamaCare and will vote against a bill that funds it,” Cornyn announced on Twitter.