In Sunday session, the rift between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) widened as amendment votes were shot down and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) gave the junior senator from Texas a lecture on Senate civility rules.
On Friday, Cruz accused McConnell of lying, saying that the leader told him there wouldn’t be a vote on the Export-Import Bank reauthorization. McConnell allowed the vote as part of a deal that included an Obamacare repeal vote.
“It saddens me to say this. I sat in my office, I told my staff the majority leader looked me in the eye and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie, and I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us,” Cruz said then. “What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie.”
Today, a Cruz amendment to the highway bill to keep Iran sanctions in force until Israel is recognized as a Jewish state and an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to defund Planned Parenthood were blocked from receiving roll-call votes.
McConnell stressed on the Senate floor today that the Ex-Im Bank vote was allowed in part because nearly half of the GOP conference supports it.
“When there is overwhelming bipartisan support for an idea, even if I oppose it, it doesn’t require some ‘special deal’ to see a vote occur on that measure. This is the United States Senate, after all, where we debate and vote on all kinds of different issues,” McConnell said.
“Whatever the outcome, the slots for these amendments will open once the Senate disposes of them. That will open the possibility of considering other important amendments. Let me repeat that. The slots for these amendments will open once the Senate disposes of them.”
Some GOPs have accused Cruz of potentially violation Senate Rule 19, which states in part: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”
“You learn that in kindergarten: You learn to work well together and play by the rules,” Alexander said, according to Politico. “Another thing you learn in kindergarten is to respect one another.”
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a ball today with the GOP discord, saying on the Senate floor it’s “increasing clear that what’s wrong with the Senate today is the same thing that troubled the Senate before Republicans took control – dysfunction in the Republican Caucus.”
Reid said the Obamacare repeal vote was “about the Republican Leader desperately trying to appease his base.”
Cruz said in a statement that McConnell and Reid “operate as a team.”
“The denial of a second, as you just saw a moment ago, which was aggressively whipped by the majority, is an extraordinary measure designed to gag senators and enforce the will of the McConnell-Reid leadership team,” he said. “…To the millions of Americans who rallied in November believing if only we got a Republican majority in the Senate something would be different, this was a clarifying and a sad moment.”