Obamacare Defunding Likely to be Kicked Back to the House

McConnell agreed the healthcare measure should be defunded as outlined in the House-passed CR.

“That’s why I plan to support it,” he said. “But if we’re going to repeal Obamacare, we’re going to need some Democrat votes to do it. That’s the only plan I've seen in this debate that will actually get us to our common goal of undoing this law. For the sake of our constituents, let's unite to achieve it.”

McConnell won the backing of the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, who argued “the only way to effectively stop Obamacare is to dismantle it entirely. The only way to achieve that currently is through the House-passed continuing resolution.”

“My colleagues and I stand ready to work with the president on smart, patient-centered healthcare reforms that will actually reduce costs and improve access,” Cornyn said. “But we refuse to help him salvage a law that has proven to be so unaffordable, unworkable and so completely at odds with what the American people were told the law would do when this bill was passed.”

Unable to muster the necessary support to filibuster the CR, Cruz changed tactics and sought to establish a rule requiring 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to remove the lower chamber’s Obamacare provision.

"If it is the Majority Leader's intent to fund Obamacare using just 51 votes, then I would submit to every Republican in this body it is our obligation to our constituents to do everything we can to prevent the Majority Leader from funding Obamacare with just 51 votes,” Cruz said. “Any member of this body that votes for cloture on this bill will be voting to allow the Majority Leader to fund Obamacare on 51 votes. I think that vote's a mistake. I think that vote disserves our constituents. I think that vote hurts the people of America.”

Reid immediately rejected the request, leaving Cruz and his allies little room for maneuvering.

Cruz, seeking to delay a vote as long as possible, took to the Senate floor promising to speak “until I am no longer able to stand.” However, since cloture on the bill was already filed before he began talking, it’s not technically a filibuster as it can’t stop Wednesday’s vote.

As of publication, senators joining Cruz and Lee in the long floor speech have included Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Vitter (R-La.), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

Reid's communications director Adam Jentleson said Cruz "pre-negotiated the terms" of his talkathon with the majority leader yesterday.

Senate Republicans met privately Tuesday afternoon to discuss the best way to proceed. Some lawmakers want Reid to open the floor to some amendments that could slow the process. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are seeking a vote on their proposal to repeal a provision in the Affordable Care Act that imposes a tax on medical devices.

But there exists a GOP faction that wants to send the amended CR back to the House in as swift a manner as possible to provide lawmakers there a greater opportunity to mull their options.