Bennet gives emotional speech ripping into Cruz over shutdown

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetNew England Patriots player says he will remain in locker room during anthem next season Press: Which way do Dems go in 2020? Koch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump's tariff authority MORE (D-Colo.) tore into Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers O'Rourke: Being a white male not a disadvantage in 2020 Dem field MORE (R-Texas) during a fiery speech on the Senate floor Thursday amid heightened tensions over the ongoing government shutdown.

Bennet, a typically subdued and moderate senator, unloaded on Cruz after the Texas Republican joined other GOP lawmakers to introduce a bill to pay members of the Coast Guard during the partial shutdown but not reopen the government. 

“I seldom rise on this floor to contradict somebody on the other side,” Bennet said during his speech. “I have worked very hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way with the presiding officer with my Republican colleagues, but these crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take.”

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“When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was under water. People were killed. People's houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were ruined forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down for politics,” Bennet shouted, referring to a series of floods that killed eight Coloradans.

Cruz, who was a freshman senator at the time, led the charge to shut down the government over funding for the Affordable Care Act. The 16-day shutdown hindered federal relief aid funds from reaching Colorado.

“There's an old saying among Texas trial lawyers — if you have the facts, you bang the facts. If you have the law, you bang the law. If you don't have either one, you bang the table. We've seen a whole lot of table-banging right here on this floor. The senator from Colorado spent a great deal of time yelling, spent a great deal of time attacking me personally,” Cruz responded. “I will say in all of my time in the Senate, I don't believe I have ever bellowed or yelled at a colleague on the Senate floor and I hope I never do that.”

Bennet’s tirade came after Cruz spoke to boost a bill proposed by Sens. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE (R-Miss.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOvernight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Pentagon chief calls reports of charges to allies erroneous: 'We won't do cost plus 50' Koch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump's tariff authority MORE (R-Alaska) that would let members of the Coast Guard receive paychecks during the record-long partial government shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWhy we need to build gateway now Campaign to draft Democratic challenger to McConnell starts raising funds Schumer congratulates J. Lo and A-Rod, but says 'I'm never officiating a wedding again' MORE (D-N.Y.) asked if the senators would modify their legislation to include the reopening of the entire government. The senators denied Schumer’s request, to which Schumer responded that the Democrats would not support the bill.

“We should pay our Coast Guard because it is not right that we aren't paying the Coast Guard. Right now every other military branch is being paid, the Army is being paid, the Air Force is being paid, the Marines are being paid, but the Coast Guard is not being paid,” Cruz said.

Bennet has been speculated to be mulling a 2020 White House bid for months, as several Senate colleagues have either announced or are expected to announce their own campaigns. 

The Associated Press reported in November that Bennet was in contact with political operatives in Iowa, which holds the first caucuses of the 2020 primary cycle. Three people close to the senator also told Colorado Public Radio in December that Bennet was considering a bid.

The partial government shutdown entered its 34th day Thursday. About 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or required to work without pay, including members of the Coast Guard.

The shutdown drags on as the White House and congressional Democrats find themselves in a prolonged stalemate over President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE’s demand that $5.7 billion for a border wall be included in any spending bill to reopen the government.

Bennet excoriated his Republican colleagues for their support of the wall, slamming it as “ludicrous.”

“How ludicrous it is that this government is shut down over a promise the president of the United States couldn't keep? And that America is not interested in having them keep. This idea that he was going to build a medieval wall across the southern border of Texas, take it from the farmers and ranchers that were there and have the Mexicans pay for it isn't true. That's why we’re here,” he said.