Cruz refuses to stand down

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Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzVoting Trump because of the Supreme Court isn't enough Trump blames GOP as Dems top RNC ratings Dem lawmakers rally Muslims against Trump 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 ReidReid: Congress should return 'immediately' to fight Zika Classified briefings to begin for Clinton, Trump The Trail 2016: Her big night MORE’s (D-Nev.) trap.

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But Cruz cast himself and ally Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeObama signs opioid bill Thiel said to explain support for Trump in convention speech Convention erupts at Cruz snub 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 CollinsTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense The Trail 2016: Words matter Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early 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 CorkerBob CorkerTrump starts considering Cabinet Trump's secret weapon is Ivanka Senate Dems introduce Iran sanctions extension 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.