The latest spat of infighting between Republican Senators over the funding of the federal government broke out on the Senate floor on Thursday afternoon, with one senator telling another that he was going against the best interest of good policy in favor of good optics.
Shortly after 4:00 on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asked to move to a vote over whether or not to fund the government. The request is just the first step in passing a funding bill to avoid a shutdown. Even if a law that funds the government passes the Senate, it will need to go back to the House to reconcile differences on the funding of Obamacare.
But Reid’s request to vote on the bill was met with an objection by tea party favorites Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the two outspoken Senators in favor of preventing any legislation from passing, effectively shutting down the government, unless it defunds Obamacare. The vote, they said, should not occur until Friday. “The American people are paying attention to this,” said Lee. “The American people are watching this, a lot have expected this might occur Friday or Saturday.” His request to delay the vote echoes an earlier call by Cruz to hold the vote Friday instead of Saturday, when people might be too busy watching football to see the vote happen.
But an unlikely opponent of Cruz and Lee’s went to the floor to complain about the Senators’ gridlocking of the U.S. government. Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who is also in favor of defunding Obamacare, told the two that it was best to just move the bill along to the House. He accused the two Senators of obstructionism over smart policy.
CORKER: I was just over at the House and talked to members of leadership there, and they would like to get the piece of legislation from the Senate over there as quickly as possible so they can respond… Now in talking earlier with the senator from Texas, it’s my understanding that the reason you don’t want to send a bill over to the House who could possibly put in place some very good policies for us here and for the American people — is that you want the American people and the outside groups that you’ve been in contact with to be able to watch us tomorrow. I’m just asking the question. Is it more important to the Senator from Texas and the Senator from Utah that the people around the country watch this vote or is it more important to us that we have a good policy outcome from our standpoint and actually have a body that has a majority of republicans to be able to react and send back something of good policy? This is confusing to me because I know the leadership there wishes to be able to respond as quickly as possible. But I’m understanding the reason we’re waiting is that y’all have sent out releases and e-mails and you want everybody to be able to watch. And it just doesn’t seem to me that that’s in our nation’s interest. Nor is it, candidly, in the interest of those who want to see good policy on the conservative side come out of the [bill].
Throughout the debate over whether to shut down the government over the funding of Obamcare, both Cruz and Lee have been at the center of their fellow Republicans’ ire. Several Senators have gone on the record trashing Cruz for his 21-hour fake filibuster, and rumor has it that GOP operatives leaked an opposition file on the Senator when he began obstructionism over Obamacare. On the other hand, last week House Republicans conducted a Twitter smear campaign against their Senate counterparts for “waving a white flag” on defunding Obamacare.