Budget showdown: Senate’s turn after Cruz exits

Updated
Seen on a television screen in the Senate Press Gallery, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the seventh hour of his filibuster on the Senate floor at the...
Seen on a television screen in the Senate Press Gallery, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during the seventh hour of his filibuster on the Senate floor at the...
Photo Charles Dharapak/AP

The Senate voted Wednesday to stop debate on the House budget bill that strips funding for Obamacare after a nearly full-day talk-a-thon from Sen. Ted Cruz.

All 100 senators—including Cruz, who notably said “a vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare”—voted in favor of moving the bill forward.

Cruz then asked for the next vote to occur Friday afternoon, instead of Saturday, to maximize the airtime he believes it will get in the media.

It’s the latest in Cruz’ long day in the limelight.

Cruz spoke through the night, quoting Duck Dynasty, railing against the healthcare law for hours, and reading bed-time stories to his children who he said were watching C-SPAN before leaving the Senate floor around noon on Wednesday. The Texas senator’s speech was designed to give the defund Obamacare movement press and some semblance of a fight, even though Cruz can’t stop the Democrat-controlled Senate from removing the provision in the House bill that halts funding for President Obama’s landmark health care law and putting forward their own budget bill.

Allies in the Cruz-led plan to defund Obamacare, Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio stepped in to help their colleague by asking extended questions during the night to give Cruz a break.

“Are we going to be the first generation to not leave the next generation better off?” Rubio asked during an extended hour-long question starting around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“I’m a little bit tired. Sen. Lee is a little bit tired,” Cruz said, looking weary and frail, as he picked back up around 7 a.m. He yielded to another question from the fresher-faced Rubio minutes later.

Republican Senate leadership said that they wouldn’t support Cruz’s efforts, highlighting a GOP civil war that has pitted newer members of Congress against its veterans.

“I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill that defunds Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after an extended condemnation of the healthcare reform bill. “All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded, and none of us want that.”

“Ted’s doing what Ted needs to do for whatever reason,” Georgia’s Sen. Saxby Chambliss said on Morning Joe, laying on the party befuddlement at Cruz’s tactics. ”The fact is we’re going to  vote at 1 o’clock.”

Chambliss plans to vote for the House bill that defunds Obamacare while funding the rest of the government.

Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn also said he’d vote to move the House’s bill forward, allowing the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass a funding bill that funds Obamacare with a simple majority.

“There will be no filibuster today,” Reid said Tuesday. “Filibusters stop people from voting, and we are going to vote tomorrow. Under the rules no one can stop that.”

Reid called Cruz and his allies “fanatics” and “anarchists.”

The schism between the GOP is widening thanks to Cruz’ talk-a-thon: Sen. Rand Paul, in private talks, has apparently opposed the filibuster effort, NBC News learned, signaling that even the most conservative Republicans are backing away from shutdown efforts.

Paul, a fellow Tea Party darling and potential 2016 presidential contender, mounted a nearly 13-hour filibuster earlier this year over American use of drones and Obama’s new CIA appointee.

“At the rate we’re going, there’s a good possibility the government’s going to shut down because we’re disagreeing on Obamacare,” Maryland’s Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said on Wednesday’s Morning Joe. “And while we’re having this nice chat, we’re not creating jobs.”

Budget showdown: Senate's turn after Cruz exits

Updated