WASHINGTON — Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz excoriated his fellow senators during an extended speech on Tuesday protesting Democratic plans to strip a provision defunding Obamacare from a House-approved bill to fund the government.
Cruz’s speech was technically not a filibuster: the vote that he was initially trying to prevent has already been scheduled, and there is nothing he can do to stop that. Nonetheless, he is speaking in defense of defunding the health-care law for some unspecified but presumably lengthy period of time.
He attacked his fellow members of the Senate for not listening to their constituents or doing their jobs, dismissively referring to the body in which he serves as “the D.C. ruling class.”
“You know, it is fascinating how many politicians in Washington think this isn’t even worth our time. Mr. President, I will point out, as is usually the case, almost always the case, the Senate floor is largely empty. Everyone’s schedules are apparently busy enough that standing up, coming together to stop Obamacare doesn’t make it onto the priority list. We ought to have all 100 senators on this floor around the clock until we come together and stop Obamacare,” Cruz said.
“If you talk to our constituents, that’s what they would like,” Cruz said.
“What is the United States Senate doing to listen to you? The answer right now is an empty chamber,” Cruz said.
“You know, sometimes people in the Senate behave as if they have no bosses, as if they’re autonomous rulers … They behave like kings and queens of their own kingdoms. And yet, Mr. President, every one of us has a whole lot of bosses,” Cruz went on, referring to the constituents who elect them.
Cruz accused his colleagues of not caring what their constituents think, and not wanting to talk to them.
“Just today, I’ve heard multiple senators complaining [about] too many phone calls from my constituents,” the Texas senator said. “What a remarkable complaint. What a remarkable complaint.”
“What a broken system. We work for the people. And why are the people unhappy with Washington, why are they disgusted with Washington? Because Washington isn’t listening to them,” he went on.
“You know, there’s a game, instead, that’s focused on maintaining the status quo, staying in office — that’s what’s important — because, Mr. President, it is apparently very, very important to be invited to all the right cocktail parties in town. Now, I’ll confess, I don’t go to a whole lot of cocktail parties in town. I’m pretty sure you don’t either. But there are members of this body for whom that is really, really important. You know, at the end of the day, we don’t work for those holding cocktail parties in Washington, D.C.; we don’t work for the intelligentsia in the big cities who write newspaper editorials. We work for the American people … and this body isn’t listening to the people,” Cruz said.
Cruz decried media coverage of the fight, saying it focused entirely on the internal squabbling, something he said he did not intend to take part in.
“They want to make this about a battle of this senator versus that senator, this person versus that person,” Cruz said of the media. “It’s all personal. It’s like reading the Hollywood gossip pages. That’s how this issued is covered.”
“It’s not by accident,” Cruz went on, saying the personality conflicts were being used as “smoke and mirrors” to distract from the substantive issues.
“So, Mr. President, regardless of the rocks that will be thrown — and they will continue to be thrown — I have no intention of engaging in that game, no intention of speaking ill of any senator, Republican or Democrat, because it’s not about us,” Cruz said.