Within Senate GOP, frustration with Cruz

A number of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Cruz leads O'Rourke by 7 points Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs 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 CollinsPressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Dem rep to launch discharge petition to force net neutrality vote in House 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 JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World 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 McConnellTeacher defeats Kentucky state House majority leader in GOP primary Conservatives leery of FBI deal on informant Lobbying world 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 LeeGOP Senate primary heats up in Montana Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Senate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee 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 ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules 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 Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure 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 HatchRepublicans think Trump is losing trade war McConnell tells senators he might scrap August recess Longtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee 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 InhofeSenate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain Overnight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer 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.”