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 Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (Utah) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March Outgoing GOP rep: Republican Party 'heading into trouble' in election 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day HHS official put on leave amid probe into social media posts Trump, Pence to address CPAC this week 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 Andrew BoehnerRestoring fiscal sanity requires bipartisan courage GOP congressman slams primary rival for Ryan donations Speculation swirls about Kevin McCarthy’s future 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 Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) from removing the ObamaCare provisions.

In the end, 19 of Cruz's colleagues backed him: GOP Sens. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (Kan.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE (Fla.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Jame Risch (Idaho), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (Okla.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (Ohio), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE (Ala.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTrump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters MORE (La.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDem wins Kentucky state House seat in district Trump won by 49 points GOP's tax reform bait-and-switch will widen inequality Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Grassley ‘incensed’ by Sessions criticism of proposed sentencing reform legislation MORE (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBeware of the bank deregulation Trojan horse Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems rip Trump's Fed pick as Senate panel mulls three key nominees MORE (Idaho), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Breaking down Trump's budget | White House finally releases infrastructure plan | Why it faces a tough road ahead | GOP, Dems feud over tax-cut aftermath | Markets rebound MORE (Wyo.), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA US trade deficit rises on record imports from China Flake, GOP senators to meet with Trump on trade MORE (Neb.), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsOvernight Finance: Lawmakers, Treasury look to close tax law loopholes | Trump says he backs gas tax hike | Markets rise despite higher inflation | Fannie Mae asks for .7B Senators working on fix to agriculture provision in GOP tax law Trump budget would slash crop insurance funds for farmers MORE (Kan.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward GOP senator: FBI failure in Florida shooting 'a separate issue' from Russia probe Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE (S.C.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe siren of Baton Rouge Big Republican missteps needed for Democrats to win in November What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (Nev.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure 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 Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better 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 CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Drama surrounding Shulkin — what is the future of VA health care? Blackburn pushes back on potential Corker bid: 'I'm going to win' 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.