DeMint not blaming McConnell for vote

Conservative leader and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is not blaming Republican leaders in the Senate for voting against a filibuster to suspend the debt limit.

That was a “defining vote,” DeMint said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” "I think it showed that all the Democrats in Congress were completely willing to give the president a blank check to borrow whatever he wanted. Most of the Republicans weren't."

What Republican leaders have realized, he added is “either they give the president all the money and debt he wants or he’s going to close the government down and blame it on them. So I think they did what they thought was only thing they could do.”

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Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other leaders in the chamber by forcing a 60-vote threshold for the debt-limit bill. Cruz’s protests forced McConnell, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and other leaders to join Democrats to overcome a filibuster 67-31 and proceed to a final vote.

The Republicans voted against the bill when it officially passed on party lines, 53-44.

“If Ted Cruz hadn't required the standard procedure, there were several others who would have,” DeMint said.

He added on Sunday that conservatives’ voices are not being heard loudly enough in government.

“I will say that a lot of us as conservatives don’t feel like we are well represented in Washington right now,” DeMint said.

“I hear it all over the country and I think that's why you see a stirring in the country.“

DeMint was specifically asked whether or not Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) should be replaced, but he dodged the question.

"Well, I got out of the Senate so that I didn't have to make those kind of decisions and really at the Heritage Foundation we’re not involved with candidates and elections and what goes on internally,” he said.

Since leaving the Senate last January, DeMint has led the Heritage Foundation, one of the capital’s most prominent conservative think tanks.

His organization has often been at odds with GOP leaders like Boehner, who has been criticized most recently by conservative activists for allowing a “clean” suspension of the debt ceiling.

That dynamic, DeMint said, has always been evident in Republican Party politics.

“Reagan was an insurgent. He was shaking up the party,” DeMint said. “And there's always that pull in Washington to move towards the establishment.”