McConnell says he does not support Cruz filibuster strategy

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he supports the Republican-backed spending plan that defunds Obamacare favored by Ted Cruz — but disagrees with the Republican Texas senator on strategy.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, the Republican leader from Kentucky said he will vote for the resolution that passed the House last Friday that Cruz has been promoting. It funds the government until the end of the year while simultaneously defunding President Obama’s health-care law.

“Not only does it defund this terrible law, it doesn’t increase government spending by a penny, and it keeps the government from shutting down, which nobody wants,” McConnell said. “And it does something else: it puts the focus right where it belongs: on the Democrats who voted and continue to vote for Obamacare.”

Under current law, the government is funded until Sept. 30, meaning what’s referred to a “continuing resolution” needs to be passed by next week to keep the entire government running. But the House bill in its current form — by defunding Obamacare — is not expected to pass the Democratic-led Senate.

Because Senate majority leader Harry Reid is expected to strip out the Obamacare defunding part of the resolution before the Senate votes on it, Cruz has proposed blocking the bill from being voted on through a filibuster. By doing that, he could fight to keep the defunding Obamacare part of the bill intact, the thinking goes.

McConnell said he is against that strategy.

“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.”

The Senate leader suggested Republicans should instead work to woo five Democrats to work with them to stop Reid from amending the bill to take the Obamacare part out — which would take a majority vote of senators.

“He can only afford to lose four Democrats if he wants to restore funding for Obamacare,” McConnell said of Reid. “So, if five Senate Democrats vote against the Majority Leader, Obamacare will be defunded. That’s a vote we should want to have.”

He added: “Democrats have been hearing the same complaints about Obamacare the rest of us have. The spotlight should be on them. This is a rare opportunity to defund this law with a simple majority. We should have that vote.”

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