Senate defies Cruz, strips language defunding ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

The Senate on Friday voted to strip language defunding ObamaCare from a stopgap spending measure on Friday after a bipartisan vote to proceed with the measure.

The Senate voted on party lines to remove the ObamaCare language, in a 54-44 vote. GOP Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchOvernight Finance: US preps cases linking North Korea to Fed heist | GOP chair says Dodd-Frank a 2017 priority | Chamber pushes lawmakers on Trump's trade pick | Labor nominee faces Senate US Chamber urges quick vote on USTR nominee Lighthizer Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (Utah) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Tech: SCOTUS hears venue shopping arguments | House to vote on broadband privacy | UK weighs in on encryption House to vote Tuesday on blocking Obama internet privacy rules Week ahead in tech: FCC privacy rules on the ropes MORE (Ariz.) were absent for the vote. 

The ObamaCare vote came after the Senate voted to proceed in a 79-19 vote, with 25 Republicans voting in favor of moving forward and 19 voting against.

The GOP votes represented a rejection of Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzConservatism's worst enemy? The Freedom Caucus. Republicans giving Univision the cold shoulder: report How 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation MORE’s arguments that Republicans would be helping Democrats in moving the bill forward.

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A number of the Texas Republican’s colleagues said it was better to get the bill back to the House to give the lower chamber more time to deliver an alternative funding measure.

The Senate is now voting on approving the bill. That vote will succeed, placing the ball in the House's court. 

It’s unclear what the House will do next. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern ObamaCare gets new lease on life Ryan picks party over country by pushing healthcare bill MORE (R-Ohio) has not developed a clear plan, and the House GOP Conference plans to meet on Saturday to consider its options.

The government will shut down on Tuesday without a new funding measure.

Cruz, backed by Tea Party groups, lobbied his colleagues throughout the week to block the bill in order to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidAfter healthcare fail, 4 ways to revise conservative playbook Dem senator 'not inclined to filibuster' Gorsuch This obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all MORE (D-Nev.) from removing the ObamaCare provisions.

In the end, 19 of Cruz's colleagues backed him: GOP Sens. Jerry MoranJerry MoranGOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (Kan.), Marco RubioMarco RubioRepublicans giving Univision the cold shoulder: report Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's Labor pick Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE (Fla.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Jame Risch (Idaho), James InhofeJames InhofeRepeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate GOP senator: EPA 'brainwashing our kids' A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (Okla.), Rob PortmanRob PortmanOvernight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes Vulnerable Senate Dem: Border tax concerning for agriculture MORE (Ohio), Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsPerez: Trump ‘trying to bully law enforcement’ over sanctuary cities Sessions says grants to be withheld from sanctuary cities Cheech Marin hopes Trump voters 'starting to realize their mistake' MORE (Ala.), David VitterDavid VitterFormer GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World Mercury brings on former Sen. Vitter, two others MORE (La.), Rand PaulRand PaulSenate takes up NATO membership for Montenegro Feehery: Freedom Caucus follies The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMike LeeSenate takes up NATO membership for Montenegro This week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat Lawmakers signal fight for healthcare reform is not over MORE (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike CrapoMike CrapoSenators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick Overnight Finance: Biz groups endorse Trump's Labor pick | New CBO score coming before health bill vote | Lawmakers push back on public broadcasting cuts Senate Banking panel seeks proposals for economic growth MORE (Idaho), Mike EnziMike EnziTop Dem: Trump's State Dept. cuts a 'Ponzi scheme' Republicans eye strategy for repealing Wall Street reform Lawmakers fundraise amid rising town hall pressure MORE (Wyo.), Deb FischerDeb FischerLawmakers share photos of their dogs in honor of National Puppy Day Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal GOP rep scolds Gillibrand for tearing into Marine general over nude-photo scandal MORE (Neb.), Pat RobertsPat RobertsDems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting Perdue vows to be chief salesman for US agriculture abroad GOP senator apologizes for mammogram joke MORE (Kan.), Tim ScottTim ScottA better economic policy Republicans rebuke King for racial remarks Conway on criticism: 'I'm not there to read about myself' MORE (S.C.), Dean HellerDean HellerRed-state Dems in Supreme Court pressure cooker This week: House GOP faces make-or-break moment on ObamaCare Shutdown politics return to the Senate MORE (Nev.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyRNC head: Dems acting ‘petty’ to Gorsuch Dems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee Grassley wants details on firm tied to controversial Trump dossier MORE (Iowa) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).

Senate GOP leaders did not want to be blamed for quashing a bill necessary to avert a government shutdown on Tuesday, when funding is scheduled to expire. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee This week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat The Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over healthcare MORE (Ky.), who voted to advance the bill, argued earlier in the week that the legislation deserved to advance to a final vote because, as initially written, it would halt the healthcare law’s implementation.

“Invoking cloture on a bill that defunds ObamaCare, doesn’t raise taxes and respects the Budget Control Act, it strikes me as a no-brainer,” McConnell told reporters.

McConnell emphasized Friday morning that the Senate GOP Conference is unified in its desire to repeal the law, even if its members disagree over tactics.

Cruz and other Tea Party-affiliated conservatives argued that by agreeing to limit debate, Republicans would give Reid the power to radically rewrite the bill and pass it with simple majority votes.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of Cruz’s allies, said that by voting to end debate and set up a final vote, Republicans would empower Reid to gut the House-passed resolution.

“Everyone knows that the vote we’re about to take — cloture on the House-passed continued resolution — is essentially a vote to allow Democrats to gut the House bill,” Lee said. “That’s why every Senate Democrat is supporting it.”

Cruz tried to rally his Republican colleagues by speaking on the floor for more than 21 hours over Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

The impassioned effort fired up conservative activists, who flooded Senate offices with calls and tied up phone lines but gained little traction with GOP senators, who grew increasingly irritated with Cruz as the week wore on.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSenate takes up NATO membership for Montenegro A great military requires greater spending than Trump has proposed Cheney: Russian election interference could be ‘act of war’ MORE (R-Ariz.) scolded Cruz for comparing GOP leaders’ stance on defunding ObamaCare to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s effort to appease Adolf Hitler.

“I think it’s wrong and I think it’s a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease and that we must act,” he said.

Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerSenate takes up NATO membership for Montenegro GOP lawmaker: Time to work with Dems on healthcare GOP senator: I'm ready to work with Trump, Dems on healthcare MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday rebuked Cruz for delaying the votes until Friday morning, accusing him of playing to the C-SPAN cameras and giving the House less time to respond.

Reid in a floor speech on Friday criticized Cruz for holding up the Senate’s work.

“Every minute that passes is a minute we get closer to a government shutdown,” Reid said. “But a bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us. ... So the question is, can we overcome the modern day anarchist?”

The Senate also rejected a budget point of order against the bill in a 68-30 vote. 

Sessions, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, raised the point of order, saying the bill exceeds the 2011 Budget Control Act by continuing the current spending level at the annualized rate of $986.3 billion.

— Ramsey Cox contributed to this story. 

This story was updated at 1:21 p.m.