As far back as July, the Republicans' government-shutdown scheme had three primary ringleaders: Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Yesterday, Cruz drew the ire of his conservative allies by saying something true: the Democratic-led Senate won't go for the "defund Obamacare" plan, so the shutdown decision will likely fall on the House.
But if that put Cruz in the far-right doghouse, how will conservatives respond to this?
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the architect of the defund movement, said he hopes for an up-or-down vote in the Senate on ObamaCare funding.Lee framed the possibility of a shutdown as President Obama's problem. "Shutdowns are bad. Shutdowns are not worth it. This law is not worth causing a shutdown over," he said.
Lee has been pushing the shutdown scheme aggressively since July. In August, he sent a fundraising letter to donors, seeking cash so he could "keep pressuring my fellow legislators to defund Obamacare before it's too late." The Utah Republican added, "We still have a lot more Senators to convince. Every single vote is critical, which is why we have to relentlessly pressure Congress to do what's right for the American people."And now this same guy is saying the Affordable Care Act "is not worth causing a shutdown over"? Were all of his previous efforts some kind of fundraising scam?
I don't imagine the right will respond kindly.
Cruz, meanwhile, understands that his brief acknowledgement of reality caused conservative consternation, and he's weighing his next move -- which may include a filibuster.
Indeed, he strongly hinted in that direction early today.
At a press conference, Cruz sought to deflect charges that he's washing his hands of the outcome by vowing to do "anything possible" in the Senate to kill the law's funding."Any procedural means necessary," Cruz said. When asked if a filibuster was possible, he said, "Yes, and everything else."
Note, assuming the House passes its measure, and the spending bill goes to the Senate, it can be filibustered in the upper chamber. If Cruz and/or any of his allies try to block a vote, either some Republicans will have to join Democrats in shutting down debate, or GOP obstructionism in the Senate will shut down the government.
Cruz seems to think the latter isn't going to happen, telling reporters today the House is "where this battle will be resolved."
The Republican game of "hot potato" continues.