Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says that one of the reasons why he missed Attorney General Loretta Lynch's confirmation vote last week was because "absence is the equivalent to a 'no' vote."
"I voted twice against Loretta Lynch being confirmed," Cruz told reporters on Thursday. "There was no significance to the final vote, and I had a scheduling conflict."
Cruz, who led GOP efforts to oppose Lynch's nomination, came under fire after he missed the final confirmation vote last Thursday. He had left the Capitol before the last vote to catch a flight back to Texas where he was holding a fundraiser for his presidential campaign.
Cruz voted against Lynch's nomination in the Judiciary Committee, spoke against her nomination on the Senate floor on Thursday morning, and voted against moving forward with her nomination in a procedural vote, called "cloture," that same day before leaving for Dallas.
"The cloture vote was the vote that mattered, I voted 'no,' and she was confirmed because Republican leadership chose to confirm her," Cruz told reporters today, "I disagree with that decision."
The assertion by Cruz and his office that the Republicans who voted for cloture were responsible for Lynch's confirmation has perturbed those in Republican leadership who voted for the procedural motion, but voted against Lynch in her confirmation vote.
While 10 Republicans voted to confirm Lynch, 20 Republicans voted on the procedural cloture motion to stop debate and move to a final vote, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune (R-S.D.).
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who also voted for cloture but against Lynch's nomination, tweeted Saturday, "FYI: Cloture ends debate only. It does not confirm a nominee. Otherwise a subsequent vote on whether to confirm a nominee is meaningless."
Cornyn later told reporters that the tweet "wasn't responding to anybody in particular, but just to clear the air and state the fact."
"I know everybody wants me and Sen. Cruz in a public fight, and I'm not going to take the bait," Cornyn said. "But I stand by what I tweeted, it's true. Sometimes it's important not to just acquiesce when people say things that are misleading, but to actually correct, which is what I was trying to do."
Cruz also reiterated today that "cloture was the vote that mattered, it required 60 votes," before being corrected by reporters. In the Senate the cloture motion on Lynch's nomination only required a simple majority under the new rules established after Democrats used the so-called "nuclear option" in 2013.
Cruz then paused, before saying, "Fair point, sorry, I actually thought of the rules as they were written."
Lynch's nomination passed in the Senate last Thursday by a vote of 56-43, 56 days after her nomination was reported out of the Judiciary Committee.
Cruz was the only senator to miss the vote.