WASHINGTON — Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker called out fellow Republicans Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah Thursday, accusing them of delaying a vote on the bill to fund the government and prevent a government shutdown to suit their own desires for publicity.
Cruz, earlier this week, held the floor for over 21 hours, speaking in defense of defunding Obamacare with that government funding bill. He asked other Republican senators to join him in voting against moving forward on a bill passed by the House, which would fund the government while defunding Obamacare.
Cruz supports defunding Obamacare, but hoped that by doing so, he could prevent Democrats from amending the bill and removing that provision. Most other Republicans declined to join him.
The Senate, on Thursday, attempted to speed up the series of votes necessary to pass a bill, moving the cloture vote Cruz was contesting from Friday to later Thursday night. Corker, on Thursday, accused Cruz of holding up that vote not for a legitimate reason, but so that he could showboat.
He noted that Cruz, after speaking for nearly a full day, had voted in favor of a procedural motion to move forward on the very bill he said he was trying to block.
“I don’t think ever we’ve had in the Senate where we had a 21-hour filibuster and then the person carrying out the filibuster voted for the issue they were filibustering. I don’t think that’s happened in the history of our country,” Corker said.
Cruz contended that he had always said he would vote yes on that vote, and that it was during a later vote that he wanted to vote no.
Corker went on to suggest that Cruz and Lee were objecting to speeding up a vote because they had “sent out press releases” to outside groups and constituents who they wanted to have watch the vote tomorrow.
“This is confusing to me because I know the leadership there wishes to be able to respond as quickly as possible, but I’m understanding the reason we’re waiting is that y’all have sent out releases and emails and you want everybody to be able to watch,” Corker said, saying Cruz and Lee had “turned this into a show.”
“And it just doesn’t seem to me that that’s in our nation’s interest. Nor is it, candidly, in the interest of those who want to see good policy on the conservative side come out of the” bill to fund the government, Corker added.
“I’m just asking the question. Is it more important to the senator from Texas and the senator from Utah that the people around the country watch this vote, or is it more important to us that we have a good policy outcome from our standpoint?” Corker said.
Moreover, Corker voiced concern that Cruz was trying to stall a bill that did something Republicans wanted: defund Obamacare.
“If that’s the case,” Cruz shot back, “then the question I would pose to my friend from Tennessee, why is Majority Leader Harry Reid going to vote the same way you’re proposing to vote? Why is every Democrat in this chamber going to vote the way you’re proposing to vote? If this is a vote in favor of Obamacare, is it the senator from Tennessee’s suggestion that the majority leader and the Senate Democrats are confused about this vote?”
“Well, I would respond that after a 21-hour filibuster yesterday, you voted in favor of the thing you’re filibustering, and Sen. Harry Reid joined you in that, too,” responded Corker. “So it seems to me that they’re similar.”
The two senators were ultimately cut off by a Senate rule that limited the amount of time for which they could speak.
Jeff Poor contributed to this report.