During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) laid out a plan for forcing the Democratically-controlled Senate to pass a House-backed resolution that would keep the government open until Dec. 15, but defund parts of the Affordable Care Act. The comments come after the Texas senator elicited anger from House Republicans for conceding earlier this week that any continuing resolution that includes Obamacare defunding would fail in the Senate.
Cruz’s strategy involves a complex parliamentary procedure in which all 46 Republicans in the Senate filibuster the resolution to pressure Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to change the rules and establish a 60-vote threshold for any amendment, thus denying Democrats the votes to add Obamacare funding back into the bill.
“Now, in all likelihood he will say no because he wants to use brute political power to force Obamacare funding through with just Democrats,” Cruz said. “If he does that, we have the tool we can always use when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can deny cloture. We can filibuster to say we will not allow us to add the funding back for Obamacare with just 51 votes.”
The plan confused host Chris Wallace, who pointed out that Senate rules generally require 60 votes to begin debate, but allow a simple majority to amend a measure. “It’s Senate Rule 22…it says you say allow debate, that you can pass an amendment by a simple majority, that’s the rule.” Later in the program, conservative commentator Brit Hume and GOP strategist Karl Rove also rejected the plan. Watch it:
The Texas senator was unsure if Republicans had enough votes to actually prevent cloture, but insisted that should the House’s continuing resolution fail to pass in the Senate, Republicans should push through smaller funding bills for specific government departments.
“If Harry Reid kills this bill in the Senate, I think the House should hold its ground and should begin passing smaller continuing resolutions, one department at a time. It should start with a continuing resolution focused on the military. Fund the military, send it over, and let’s see it Harry Reid is willing to shut down the military just because he wants to force Obamacare on the American people.” The House already approved a Defense Department spending bill in July, however, which “provides for $512.5 billion in non-war funding and about $82.3 billion for war operations.”
“I believe we should stand our ground and I don’t think Harry Reid and Barack Obama should shut down the federal government,” Cruz said.