Within Senate GOP, frustration with Cruz

A number of Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGraham, Cruz proposal to defund the U.N. is misguided Right renews push for term limits as Trump takes power Dissenting nominees give hope to GOP skeptics of Trump 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 CollinsDeVos vows to be advocate for 'great' public schools GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights 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 JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis 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 McConnellMitch McConnellGOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Senators introduce dueling miners bills Dems demand second hearing for Trump's Education nominee 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 LeeMike LeeRight renews push for term limits as Trump takes power Conservatives press Trump on Supreme Court pick Overnight Finance: Ethics chief blasts Trump business plan | Senate begins late-night marathon vote | Lawmakers look to rein in Trump on trade 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 ReidDems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe Ryan says Trump, GOP 'in complete sync' on ObamaCare Congress has a mandate to repeal ObamaCare 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 ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust 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 CrapoMike CrapoLive coverage of Sessions confirmation hearing Senate rejects Paul's balanced budget Dems attack Trump SEC pick's ties to Wall Street 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 HatchSenate Finance panel to hold Price hearing next week Overnight Finance: Price puts stock trading law in spotlight | Lingering questions on Trump biz plan | Sanders, Education pick tangle over college costs Trump Treasury pick gets support from ex-mortgage assistance leader 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 InhofeSenate teeing up Mattis waiver Lawmakers play nice at Russia hacking hearing Senate chairman meets Trump’s EPA 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.”