Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) bickered Monday as Cruz rose to object to Reid’s motion to appoint conferees to a House-Senate budget committee.
Cruz said he was concerned that the conference report — which cannot be filibustered — would be used to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. He asked that Reid amend his motion to go to conference to make out of order any provisions raising taxes or raising the debt ceiling.
Reid said Cruz had a chance to amend the Senate budge, which raises $975 billion in new tax revenue from tax reform, when it was considered on the floor.
He said Cruz’s request to eliminate all taxes in a final House-Senate budget was absurd.
“The senator from Texas was on the losing side ... now he wants us to adopt the losing side’s view or we cannot go to conference,” Reid said.
“My friend from Texas is like a schoolyard bully,” Reid added.
"He pushes everybody around and is losing and instead of playing the game according to the rules, he not only takes the ball home with him, but he changes the rules — that way no one wins except the bully who tries to indicate to people that he has won."
Cruz, a Tea Party darling whose rhetoric has sometimes raised eyebrows among Republicans, shot back that “I wasn’t aware we are in the schoolyard.”
Reid cut him off, saying “enough.”
Cruz is a rising GOP star whose speaking engagements have some thinking he is plotting a presidential run in 2016.
This is the second time Republicans have blocked an effort to go to conference on the budget.
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Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) last month objected to a conference on behalf of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Budget Committee.
“Why are my Republican colleagues so afraid?” Reid asked Monday in making his request. “We have our differences, but Democrats aren’t afraid to work out those differences.”
Reid accused the GOP of “whining” about the Senate not producing a budget for four years and then refusing to bring about a conference.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he wants a framework agreement before convening a conference committee. Such a framework could facilitate a downpayment on the debt, he said.
—Ramsey Cox contributed to this story.