Within Senate GOP, frustration with Cruz

A number of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Memo: Trump leaves chaos in his wake in UK Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE 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 CollinsDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts 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 McConnellDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick 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 moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE GOP senator moves to restart Pentagon report on NATO allies' spending 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 ReidDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick The dishonesty of the deep state The SCOTUS nomination clearly demonstrates that elections have consequences 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 CrapoMidterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs 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 HatchGOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Yale Law School students, alumni denounce Trump Supreme Court pick 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 InhofeNew EPA chief draws sharp contrast to Pruitt Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs Senate moves to start negotiations on defense policy bill 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.”