Late Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was all set to enact an agreement he made with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that would adjourn the Senate for a nice weekend and then come back on Monday to vote on the Cromnibus spending bill.
Reid proceeded with the pro forma motion to adjourn — until Senator Ted Cruz objected. From that point forward, all of Reid’s and McConnell’s best laid plans went haywire.
Instead of adjourning, Reid is using the time this weekend to ram through several nominations. Meanwhile, Cruz is trying to maneuver Reid into holding a vote on his amnesty defunding bill. It doesn’t appear the majority leader is about to give in, and Cruz’s tactics have some Republican senators grumbling.
Asked if Cruz had created an opening for the Democrats, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said, “I wish you hadn’t pointed that out.”
Hatch added, “You should have an end goal in sight if you’re going to do these types of things and I don’t see an end goal other than irritating a lot of people.”
Added Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.: “I fail to see what conservative ends were achieved.” He also said he was worried about what the events means for next year, when Republicans are in charge.
“The other concern I have here now is the nominations that are going to get through that otherwise wouldn’t,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Appearing irritated, some Republicans spoke with Cruz on the Senate floor about his actions. At another point, Cruz huddled in the rear of the chamber with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who had supported him on Friday evening, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, another tea party-backed lawmaker.
The GOP leader, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, made no public comment on the events, even though Cruz suggested Friday night McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, should not be entirely trusted to keep their pledge to challenge Obama’s immigration policy when Republicans gain two-house control of Congress in January.
“We will learn soon enough if those statements are genuine and sincere,” Cruz said.
Cruz and the Banzai Charge Caucus in the Senate will not get their way this time around. Most Republicans — even those adamantly opposed to the president’s immigration orders — would prefer to keep their powder dry and, less than a month from now, take on the defunding issue when Republicans control both houses of Congress. At the very least, it is likely some kind of defunding measure will end up on the president’s desk, forcing him to veto it. That route is far preferable to the futile gesture of trying to get a defunding measure passed through a Democratic Senate.
Cruz doesn’t care what other senators think of him — a rarity on the Hill. His constituency is outside of Washington and sees nothing wrong with his hopeless, but emotionally satisfying, tactics. Americans overwhelmingly reject the president’s actions on immigration but they are equally opposed to shutting down the government. But Cruz and his small band of GOP outriders aren’t listening, which only makes them look petulant and small.