Within Senate GOP, frustration with Cruz

A number of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE's colleagues expressed frustration Tuesday at the Texas Republican's tactics in the fight over ObamaCare and government funding.

As Cruz prepared to speak for hours on the Senate floor to try to delay work on the government-funding measure, many fellow GOP senators exiting a conference meeting said they thought his strategy would backfire on their party.

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“We have an obligation to govern, and it does not make sense to link defunding ObamaCare, as much as I’d like to see that come about, with a measure that is essential to keep government funding,” said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine.). “That includes vital money for the Department of Defense that pays our troops in harms way.

“I don’t think its good policy, and good policy and good politics usually go together,” she said.

Sen. Mike JohannsMike JohannsFarmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington MORE (R-Neb.), who has previously criticized the strategy, said threatening a government shutdown was never a good tactic. 

“To me it never seemed like an idea that was going to go far. It never seemed to me like it had a lot of possibilities. That doesn’t mean that it won’t get a lot of attention,” Johanns said. “The majority is the majority. That is the reality … there is a difference in being in the majority and being in the minority.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) convened a special all-conference meeting on Tuesday to try to unify his conference.

But during and after the meeting, Cruz and Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSupreme Court takes on same-sex wedding cake case House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments MORE (R-Utah) indicated they intended to continue their effort to link ObamaCare's defunding to a government funding bill.

The two also indicated they would seek to delay Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE's (D-Nev.) effort to strip the ObamaCare language from the bill and send a clean government-funding bill to the House.

McConnell had said it would be better to send the clean bill to the House soon, to give House Republicans more time to make a counter offer to the Senate.

Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.) said many members wanted to get on with the debate, but Lee and Cruz were not listening. 

“Digging in? No more than they have already,” he said. 

Asked by a reporter if Republicans were unifying, Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOvernight Regulation: Feds push to clarify regs on bump stocks | Interior wants Trump to shrink two more monuments | Navajo Nation sues over monument rollback | FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Senate panel approves bill easing Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Finance: GOP delays work on funding bill amid conservative demands | Senate panel approves Fed nominee Powell | Dodd-Frank rollback advances | WH disputes report Mueller subpoenaed Trump bank records Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (R-Idaho) responded, "Um … that's a hard call."

Other senior members were plain in their discomfort with the shutdown brinksmanship.

"I went through that in '95. We had both houses of Congress; we balance the budget, I think three years in a row, and we just turned the country over to Democrats," said Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah). "That's what happened. They blamed the Republicans for doing that, and I suspect it would be a repeat of the same thing.

"We have to find a way of standing up for principles without immolating ourselves in front of everybody," he added.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGOP senator on backing Moore: ‘It’s a numbers game’ Overnight Energy: Panel advances controversial Trump nominee | Ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate | Dem commissioner joins energy regulator Senate panel advances controversial environmental nominee MORE (R-Okla.) said members were worried that voting to block the House continuing resolution that defunds ObamaCare would be too difficult to explain to members of the public “who don’t understand or care to understand” Senate procedure. 

“We are getting wrapped up in a whole lot of procedural things,” he said. “We’ll have procedural votes that will be very hard to explain.”