As legislators squabble over defunding Obamacare in a government funding bill, the top two Republican senators find themselves in the crosshairs, not of a Democratic group, but of a conservative group.
Senate Conservatives Fund has declared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn “turncoats,” after both said they would not support a filibuster by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to prevent a vote on the House bill that funds the government while defunding Obamacare, a move Cruz hopes will prevent Democrats from amending the bill to fund the health-care law.
On Tuesday, McConnell said he supported the House bill, which would fund the government through Dec. 15 while removing funding for the health-care law. But he said he would not support Cruz’s plan to filibuster it.
“I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare,” he said. “All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded. And none of us want that.”
Politico reported that Cornyn also will not support the bill.
“Sen. Cornyn will not block a bill that defunds Obamacare,” a spokeswoman said.
McConnell and Cornyn’s statements all but ensure that Democrats will have the votes necessary to overcome Cruz’s filibuster, after which, the Democratic majority in the Senate can pass a bill that funds the government and Obamacare.
That, according to an email Senate Conservatives Fund sent to supporters, amounts to “the ultimate betrayal.”
“Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn have surrendered to Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and the Democrats. More importantly, they have surrendered to Obamacare — the biggest job killer in America,” the email reads.
Senate Conservatives Fund could create bigger problems for Cornyn and McConnell if they were to provide monetary support to primary opponents challenging the two senators for their seats next year.
The group is already running a poll of its supporters to decide whether or not to endorse Matt Bevin, the businessman challenging McConnell in the Kentucky Senate race primary, and executive director Matt Hoskins said earlier this year that they were open to supporting Bevin.
Cornyn has not yet drawn a viable primary challenger, but there are a couple names floating around, including Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert.
In response to the attack, a Republican aide pointed out that Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint, who founded Senate Conservatives Fund, voted for the 2011 government funding bill that funded the healthcare law. DeMint is no longer affiliated with Senate Conservatives Fund.
“Only a group like the Senate Conservative Fund could turn an issue where every Republican agrees into a way to pit conservatives against each other and let Barack Obama off the hook,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. “If they used half the money they spent attacking Republicans over the last month to target the five Democrats we need to defund Obamacare, we would be in a very different place.”