Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) government-shutdown scheme relies on several elements, but chief among them is Republican unanimity. The far-right Texan, if he's going to have any chance at all, will need just about all of his fellow GOP senators to link arms and rally around his destructive, unpopular scheme.
As yesterday unfolded, it became clear this isn't going to happen.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and many of his rank and file are poised to cast votes this week that will effectively rebuke Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to filibuster a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government funded past Sept. 30.Cruz has been calling on fellow Republicans to block the House-passed stopgap spending bill that defunds the president's 2010 health care law because he sees the vote as a way to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from stripping out the Obamacare funding blockade. But a GOP-led filibuster puts many Republicans in the tough spot of opposing a bill they actually support while also likely causing a government shutdown.
At this point, some of you might be thinking, "Wait, if Senate Republicans balk, don't they risk drawing the ire of Tea Partiers and other right-wing activists?" In this case, the answer is no.
GOP senators are actually saved by procedural complexities. As we discussed yesterday, Cruz's plan is dependent on filibustering the House spending measure, which defunds the Affordable Care Act, and which Cruz and his allies actually support. It's obviously a little convoluted, but the Texas Republican thinks blocking the bill he likes will increase the risk of a shutdown and force Democrats to meet his demands.
But this also leaves an out for every other Senate Republican who wants no part of the nonsense. McConnell, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) all announced yesterday that they'll vote for the House bill because, of course, it "defunds Obamacare."
This solves a lot of Republican problems at once -- it cuts Cruz off at the knees; it sharply decreases the likelihood of a shutdown that GOP senators don't actually want; and if pressed by the right, these Republicans can honestly and accurately say they voted in support of the conservative House bill that the party's radicalized base wanted.
For the country, this is good news. For Ted Cruz, it's quickly becoming an ignominious failure.
Indeed, the far-right's senator's entire scheme is imploding in ways that he apparently didn't see coming. Cruz has lost House Republicans, who were furious when he predicted failure last week after they followed his lead. Cruz has lost Senate Republicans, who consider his hare-brained scheme ridiculous and are annoyed by his efforts to exacerbate intra-party tensions.
Is there anything going Cruz's way? At this point, no.
This fiasco was not without warnings, but Cruz ignored them, assuming he'd somehow find a way to succeed. Instead, the Texan seems to have set a trap for himself, which he quickly fell into.