Senate defies Cruz, strips language defunding ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

The Senate on Friday voted to strip language defunding ObamaCare from a stopgap spending measure on Friday after a bipartisan vote to proceed with the measure.

The Senate voted on party lines to remove the ObamaCare language, in a 54-44 vote. GOP Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (Utah) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAnti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid Arpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE (Ariz.) were absent for the vote. 

The ObamaCare vote came after the Senate voted to proceed in a 79-19 vote, with 25 Republicans voting in favor of moving forward and 19 voting against.

The GOP votes represented a rejection of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? GOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE’s arguments that Republicans would be helping Democrats in moving the bill forward.

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A number of the Texas Republican’s colleagues said it was better to get the bill back to the House to give the lower chamber more time to deliver an alternative funding measure.

The Senate is now voting on approving the bill. That vote will succeed, placing the ball in the House's court. 

It’s unclear what the House will do next. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerScaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Lobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom MORE (R-Ohio) has not developed a clear plan, and the House GOP Conference plans to meet on Saturday to consider its options.

The government will shut down on Tuesday without a new funding measure.

Cruz, backed by Tea Party groups, lobbied his colleagues throughout the week to block the bill in order to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidStrange bedfellows oppose the filibuster No, it is not racist to question birthright citizenship McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) from removing the ObamaCare provisions.

In the end, 19 of Cruz's colleagues backed him: GOP Sens. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Olympic athletes in response to abuse scandals Overnight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sale MORE (Kan.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (Fla.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Jame Risch (Idaho), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Democrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line MORE (Okla.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Shaken Portman urges support for 'red flag' laws after Ohio shooting MORE (Ohio), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE (Ala.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterGrocery group hires new top lobbyist Lobbying World Senate confirms Trump judge who faced scrutiny over abortion views MORE (La.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeA cash advance to consider McConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing MORE (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Oversight Republicans demand answers on Capital One data breach On The Money: Fed cuts rates for first time since financial crisis | Trump rips Fed after chief casts doubt on future cuts | Stocks slide | Senate kicks budget vote amid scramble for GOP support MORE (Idaho), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal On The Money: Fed poised to give Trump boost with rate cut | Parties unable to reach deal in Trump tax return lawsuit | New York opens investigation into Capital One data breach Outgoing Senate Budget chair unveils plans to replace Budget Committee MORE (Wyo.), Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerThe 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal Landmark US-Russia arms control treaty poised for final blow GOP senator introduces bill banning 'addictive' social media features MORE (Neb.), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Kobach says he's more prepared for 'propaganda' in Senate campaign Pompeo: Senate run 'off the table' MORE (Kan.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottIt's time to empower military families with education freedom GOP Sen. Tim Scott says if he runs in 2022 it will be his last race When it comes to student debt, it is time to talk solutions MORE (S.C.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (Nev.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (Iowa) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).

Senate GOP leaders did not want to be blamed for quashing a bill necessary to avert a government shutdown on Tuesday, when funding is scheduled to expire. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTwo years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded McGrath releases ad blasting McConnell with coal miners in Kentucky: 'Which side are you on?' Prediction: 2020 election is set to be hacked, if we don't act fast MORE (Ky.), who voted to advance the bill, argued earlier in the week that the legislation deserved to advance to a final vote because, as initially written, it would halt the healthcare law’s implementation.

“Invoking cloture on a bill that defunds ObamaCare, doesn’t raise taxes and respects the Budget Control Act, it strikes me as a no-brainer,” McConnell told reporters.

McConnell emphasized Friday morning that the Senate GOP Conference is unified in its desire to repeal the law, even if its members disagree over tactics.

Cruz and other Tea Party-affiliated conservatives argued that by agreeing to limit debate, Republicans would give Reid the power to radically rewrite the bill and pass it with simple majority votes.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of Cruz’s allies, said that by voting to end debate and set up a final vote, Republicans would empower Reid to gut the House-passed resolution.

“Everyone knows that the vote we’re about to take — cloture on the House-passed continued resolution — is essentially a vote to allow Democrats to gut the House bill,” Lee said. “That’s why every Senate Democrat is supporting it.”

Cruz tried to rally his Republican colleagues by speaking on the floor for more than 21 hours over Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

The impassioned effort fired up conservative activists, who flooded Senate offices with calls and tied up phone lines but gained little traction with GOP senators, who grew increasingly irritated with Cruz as the week wore on.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says late husband would be 'very disappointed' with politics today What would John McCain do? Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China MORE (R-Ariz.) scolded Cruz for comparing GOP leaders’ stance on defunding ObamaCare to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s effort to appease Adolf Hitler.

“I think it’s wrong and I think it’s a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease and that we must act,” he said.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday rebuked Cruz for delaying the votes until Friday morning, accusing him of playing to the C-SPAN cameras and giving the House less time to respond.

Reid in a floor speech on Friday criticized Cruz for holding up the Senate’s work.

“Every minute that passes is a minute we get closer to a government shutdown,” Reid said. “But a bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us. ... So the question is, can we overcome the modern day anarchist?”

The Senate also rejected a budget point of order against the bill in a 68-30 vote. 

Sessions, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, raised the point of order, saying the bill exceeds the 2011 Budget Control Act by continuing the current spending level at the annualized rate of $986.3 billion.

— Ramsey Cox contributed to this story. 

This story was updated at 1:21 p.m.