Obamacare Defunding Served Up to Senate, Awaits Reid's Knife
Cruz and Lee wanted to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from being able to amend the CR to strip the Obamacare provision, but acknowledged last night that their strategy is to now attempt to block the bill's passage after Reid moves to pull the language defunding Obamacare.
“It’s a shame we’re standing here having wasted perhaps two days, most of yesterday and a good part of today, when we could pass what we need to pass very quickly and send it back to the House,” Reid said today, accusing Cruz of "a big waste of time."The CR faces one more procedural vote, which could happen Friday, before a final vote expected to run into the weekend.
Lee told CNN that they are left with three options, "two of which are perfectly acceptable."
"One would be to vote on it as is. Another would be to vote on it and have amendments, allowing members of both parties to submit amendments and have those considered and voted on themselves," he said. "But the third option is the one that we are not OK with, and it seems to be the one that Harry Reid is gravitating toward, which is he wants to have his amendment, one amendment only, to gut the House-passed continuing resolution and nothing else. And we're not OK with that and that's what we were talking about on the floor."
"The fact that we don't yet have consensus on [a replacement for Obamacare] does not mean that there isn't good reason to protect Americans who are fearful, justifiably and understandably, for what is going to happen for them under Obamacare," Lee added.
Paul said on CNN that "it seems to be a messy sausage factory up here, but things seem to get churned out and government continues to go on."
"I think we should do everything we can do to defeat it. But we're against long odds, you know, we're against a majority in the Senate that's Democrats who want Obamacare. We're against the president, it's his signature issue," he said. "So what I've been saying all along is the president wants 100 percent of Obamacare, we don't want any part of it, maybe the in-between solution is we try to get rid of some of the worst parts of it. And that would be having some amendments, some discussion."
Paul said that Cruz got off-course in his speech with one historical comparison.
"You go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany, look, we saw in Britain Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, accept the Nazis. Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe, but that's not our problem, let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them," Cruz said. "And in America there were voices that listened to that."
"I hate Obamacare about as much as anybody, but I'm not a real big fan of either Hitler or Chamberlain comparisons, because obviously war is a different subject. And I am sensitive to people who are always trotting this up, and calling everybody this or that name from history," Paul said this afternoon. "Obamacare is a bad thing, we ought to discuss it on its own merits. But, you know, that's where I am. I think we ought to just stick to Obamacare."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lashed out at Cruz on the floor today, calling the Hitler-Chamberlain comments "a disservice to those who stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs that we cannot appease, and that we must act, and we did act. And it's a disservice to those who did act."
“We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost," McCain added of the original passage of Obamacare. "One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation."
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) declared that he would vote with the “take-over-the-government crowd that is ready to repeal and replace Obamacare with step-by-step reforms that would reduce the costs of healthcare.”
“Every one of us has voted against voted against Obamacare repeatedly,” Alexander said of Republicans. “Every one of us would vote to repeal it, but in my view, the right tactic is not to shut down the government. It won’t work – Obamacare would just keep going and we would have shut down the government.”
Speaking to Rush Limbaugh from his Senate office after 21 hours on the floor, Cruz said his Republican colleagues have a "defeatist attitude."
"Not all, but virtually all of the meetings since I've been in the Senate and we have been discussing, number one, strategies on Obamacare for at least six months. Mike Lee and I have been going over and over and over again saying, 'Does anyone else have an alternative? Does anyone else have any plan?' And there's never been a plan, and we have been talking about this for months," Cruz said.
"Well, unfortunately there's an alliance between the Democrats, who certainly don't want to discuss the merits of Obamacare because it is such an abysmal failure, and many of the Republicans who are scared of this fight," he added. "And so that alliance, both the Republicans who don't want to have this fight and the Democrats who don't want to discuss the merits of the issue, they want to make it about anything else, and the easiest thing is to make it about personality, so, you know, they get a bunch of anonymous congressional staffers to give all sorts of scurrilous quotes and particularly if you can include a little bit of profanity and, you know, throw insults, and, you know what? Who cares?"
Cruz then went back to his Capitol Hill apartment and got some shuteye.