When you cast your vote for Senate, you thought you were sending someone to DC to represent your state’s values and ideals. Who knew you put so much time and effort into selecting someone to send someone to Washington for a glorified game of follow-the-leader?
Unless you live in Texas. Senator Ted Cruz was accused by his colleagues of threatening the very rule of order in the chambers. What did he do to cause some Republicans to warn of a “dangerous precedent”? He dared to call out the majority leader for dishonesty.
The showdown happened after Senator Mitch McConnell called a vote on an amendment to re-open the Export-Import bank, attached to a must-pass bill to keep the Highway Trust Fund running. Sen. Cruz and other conservatives oppose the Export-Import bank’s offering aid to foreign customers to buy American goods, saying it amounts to “corporate welfare.”
Sen. Cruz says Sen. McConnell “promised” him and all other Republican senators that he had not cut a deal on the Export-Import bank, but bringing this amendment to a vote shows it was an empty promise. Cruz called him out on the Senate floor in what is being described as an “outburst” that “breached the Senate’s decorum.” No less than three senior Republicans, including Cruz’s fellow Texan John Cornyn, took to the floor to rebuke Cruz for calling out McConnell’s undisputed dishonesty.
(By the way, watch the video yourself. Being adamant is not the same as having an outburst.)
In retaliation, nearly all his fellow Republicans refused to support his call for a roll call vote on his own amendment to the bill – one that would require Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist and free four American hostages before being relieved of sanctions — a worthy amendment, even if unrelated to the Highway Trust Fund as the Export-Import Bank. But because he dared to challenge their leader, only 3 fellow Republicans cast supporting votes. (They did the same to Sen. Mike Lee when he sought a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, which has recently been exposed selling the body parts of aborted babies with taxpayer funding.) But his party’s “smackdown” didn’t shut Cruz up. He told the press just what he thought of such tactics:
“Granting a sufficient second for a roll-call vote is done customarily in the United States Senate. Denying it is extraordinary, and it was done as a consequence of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being afraid of this issue
“To see the so-called Republican leader whip against allowing a vote to defund Planned Parenthood … makes clear that the McConnell-Reid leadership is united in favor of Big Government.”
When elected liars are protected by a convenient tradition of “decorum” and the truth tellers are excoriated for their courage, something needs to change. Sen. Cruz was right to stand up against Sen. McConnell and the dishonest Republican leadership in the Senate. As he said, “Speaking the truth about actions is entirely consistent with civility.” If Senators Hatch and McConnell really care about the reputation and decorum of the Senate, they should resign.
After all, “follow the leader” wouldn’t be a bad game to play if we had honest, conservative leaders.