By Elise Viebeck - 09/19/13 06:10 PM EDT
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he's willing to mount a filibuster in order to defund ObamaCare but repeated Thursday that the burden ultimately lies with the House. [WATCH VIDEO]
The comments came after Cruz told reporters that fully repealing the healthcare law will take another election, lowering expectations for a fight he's stoked for months.
House GOP lawmakers tweeted Wednesday night that Cruz is waving the "white flag" and "refusing to fight."
At a press conference, Cruz sought to deflect charges that he's washing his hands of the outcome by vowing to do "anything possible" in the Senate to kill the law's funding.
"Any procedural means necessary," Cruz said. When asked if a filibuster was possible, he said, "Yes, and everything else."
But the Texas Republican also stated that the House is "where this battle will be resolved."
"The House is the one branch of government [where] Republicans have a majority," Cruz told reporters at the Capitol.
"If any, when we win this fight, it's going to be because House Republicans … continue to stand up."
The remarks point to an ongoing disagreement among Republicans about which chamber will lead the charge against ObamaCare into a possible government shutdown.
Hours before Cruz spoke, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) challenged Senate Republicans to "pick up the mantle and get the job done."
"We'll deliver a big victory in the House [on Friday] and then this fight will move over to the Senate, where it belongs,” Boehner said at a separate press event.
"I expect my Senate colleagues to be up for the battle."
Boehner plans to hold a vote Friday on a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government but strip out money for ObamaCare.
It will pass with majority Republican support and then head to the Senate, where it cannot pass without significant defections from the left.
The strategy bows to conservative demands for tough tactics against the healthcare law with less than two weeks until the insurance exchanges open.
Cruz loudly praised Boehner on Thursday for "historic leadership" and House Republicans for "sticking their neck out."
But earlier in the day, he told reporters that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has enough votes to send a CR with ObamaCare funding straight back to the House.
"Reid has 54 Democrats, and they presumably are going to stand with him … and a number of Senate Republicans have expressed that they may support the Democrats here," Cruz said after an event held by the National Auto Dealers Association.
"I think it is likely that it will take another election for a full repeal," he added.
Cruz and his allies have not yet outlined their plan for when the House passes its CR on Friday. Several have said that it depends how Reid responds.
But Cruz's comments on Thursday suggest that all tactics are on the table, including a talking filibuster that could make Republicans the face of a shutdown on Oct. 1.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the architect of the defund movement, said he hopes for an up-or-down vote in the Senate on ObamaCare funding.
Lee framed the possibility of a shutdown as President Obama's problem.
"Shutdowns are bad. Shutdowns are not worth it. This law is not worth causing a shutdown over," he said.
Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), one leader of the House defunding push, sought to dismiss the perception of tensions within the GOP.
"I would hope that today, you see unity from the House Republicans and the Senate Republicans," Graves said. "We are unified behind funding the government and stopping the harmful effects of ObamaCare."
Cruz's comments on ObamaCare repeal requiring another election were first reported by The Huffington Post.