Bennet gives emotional speech ripping into Cruz over shutdown

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetCNN's O'Rourke town hall finishes behind Fox News, MSNBC The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget Overnight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan MORE (D-Colo.) tore into Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzJim Carrey fires back at 'Joe McCarthy wanna-be' Cruz Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity GOP senators split over antitrust remedies for big tech 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 WickerSenators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks Momentum grows to create 'Do Not Track' registry Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law MORE (R-Miss.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks Senators introduce bill to prevent border agency from selling personal data Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 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 SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' 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 TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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.