Cruz refuses to stand down

Cruz refuses to stand down
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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 (R-Texas) on Monday defended his decision to delay a final vote on the $1.1 trillion spending bill over the weekend, which is helping Senate Democrats confirm nearly two dozen of President Obama's nominations.

Cruz’s colleagues have voiced frustration with his actions, suggesting he walked into 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’s (D-Nev.) trap.

But Cruz cast himself and ally Sen. 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 (R-Utah) as fighters willing to take on the Obama administration and GOP leaders as too willing to go with the flow.

“Leadership was angry. They were angry because they did not want to fight this fight now. And Mike Lee and I thought it was important to get a vote now, to get the Democrats on record, and we hoped every Republican on record against executive amnesty,” Cruz said in a radio interview with Sean Hannity on Monday afternoon.

Cruz and Lee held up voting on the spending bill by refusing to allow unanimous consent to speed up the vote unless the Senate first cast a vote on whether to stop Obama's executive actions on immigration.

Once Reid realized he’d have the extra time, he used it to allow the Senate to cast procedural votes to set up confirmations for 23 of President Obama's nominees. 

“Harry Reid responded in frankly a petulant way, insisting that the Senate come in on Saturday and spend all day in a series of unrelated votes,” Cruz said. “At the end of the day, we were finally able to get our vote.”

Nearly half of Senate Republicans did not stand with Cruz, with Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight 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 FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (Maine) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) labeling his move “counterproductive.”

“While the president’s executive actions on immigration are reprehensible and deserve a strong response, I value the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution too much to exploit it for political expediency,” 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.).

Cruz said Republican leadership “aggressively whipped” against his point of order, resulting in 20 Republicans voting against it. He chalked the differences up to “a procedural disagreement.”

“I'm taking them at their word that they were jumping ship because of concerns on the procedural tool, but come January, come February, they have committed up and down that they're going to be here to stop amnesty,” Cruz said.

Earlier Monday, Lee appeared on Fox's "America's Newsroom" to defend the delay, noting Reid would have likely tried to advance nominees regardless of the delay.

Cruz noted that 22 Republican senators voted for his point of order, including himself and Lee, while every Senate Democrat “is now on the record” supporting Obama's executive action shielding up to 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. 

While Cruz said he hoped the weekend fight “sets the stage” for Republican leaders to take action against Obama’s use of executive authority in January or February, he said it was an “open question” whether they would.

“It's funny, they use the term selfish — to actually honor the commitments you made to your constituents. ‘That's not playing the rules of the game.’ Well you know what, the rules of the game have resulted in bankrupting our kids and grandkids and seeing our constitutional liberties eroded, and enough is enough,” Cruz said.

“I spent two months campaigning all over this country, helping retire Harry Reid and win this new majority, and I'll tell you, Senate and House candidates said over and over again, elect us and we will stop President Obama's illegal executive amnesty. We gotta honor our word.”

Cruz's comments came before the Senate voted 51-43 to approve Obama's pick for surgeon general, despite Republican opposition.
"There's a first time for everything, but public health advocates can thank Ted Cruz tonight for his help getting Vivek Murthy confirmed," White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer tweeted Monday.