By Peter Schroeder - 02/12/14 04:14 PM EST
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzThe Trail 2016: On the fringe FULL SPEECH: Hillary Clinton links Trump to 'alt-right' in Reno Presidential hopefuls still bank on retail politics MORE (R-Texas) refused to say whether Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSanders, Merkley back McConnell decision to skip TPP vote John McCain: No longer a profile in courage McConnell: Senate won't take up TPP this year MORE (R-Ky.) should continue as Senate party leader after his surprise vote to advance a debt-limit boost.
McConnell, facing a tough primary challenger, surprised observers by agreeing to back the measure after the vote appeared to have stalled short of the necessary total on the Senate floor. Several GOP lawmakers, including most of party leadership, switched their vote to back McConnell, as the measure advanced 67-31.
“That is ultimately a decision, in the first instance, for the voters of Kentucky to make,” he said.
“Each senator, each representative makes a decision about how he or she will vote, and when those votes are clear to their constituents, democracy works far better,” he added.
While demure on McConnell, Cruz blasted the deal as an abdication of leverage and leadership.
“Today, Congress agreed … to give President Obama a blank check … while doing absolutely nothing, nada, zero, to address the underlying problem,” he said.
Conservative Republicans like Cruz forced the Senate to garner 60 votes to end a filibuster, after some Republicans mulled simply allowing a majority of Democrats to advance the bill themselves.
But rather than putting Republican colleagues in a jam, Cruz insisted the party should have held their ground and demanded concessions from Democrats in exchange for a borrowing boost.
“It should have been a very easy vote,” he said. “Every Senate Republican should have stood together and said what every one of us tells our constituents back home, which is that we will not go along with raising the debt ceiling while doing nothing to fix the underlying out of control spending problem.”