Within Senate GOP, frustration with Cruz

A number of 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'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.

“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 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 (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 JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen 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 McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure 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 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) 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 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.) 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 CrapoBeware of the bank deregulation Trojan horse Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems rip Trump's Fed pick as Senate panel mulls three key nominees 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 HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves 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 InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown 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.”