Senate Republicans have their weekly lunch today. It should be . . . er . . . interesting as they discuss the continuing resolution and Obamacare. Late yesterday Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’d support the House continuing resolution to defund Obamacare. That’s what the conservatives been asking for right? A slew of polling confirms that even Republicans don’t favor a shutdown; apparently Heritage Action doesn’t speak for Republicans, let alone the country.
Here are some questions fellow Republicans may want to ask Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Tex.), who no doubt are disappointed that McConnell and probably scores of other senators want no part of their escapade. Outside of camera view they might get some straight answers from Cruz.
Why did you praise the House CR if you now want to filibuster it? don’t you think this will entirely confuse voters?
If you filibuster the CR, then what?
Would you filibuster a CR with Obamacare discretionary funding?
If so, how does this end? Do you think Democrats or the president will cave?
Where are the 51 votes (or 60 for cloture) for a CR without Obamacare? Where would the 66 come to override an Obama veto?
How long would you suggest a shutdown go on for?
How do you propose funding the military? If by separate appropriation, what incentive would the Dems have to approve that?
Why do you keep saying “defund” when the bulk of the entitlement spending would remain?
Where do you get the idea this is popular with voters? Even with Republicans?
Do you think voters don’t know that Dems are for Obamacare (and each incumbent Dem was the 60th vote)? If they do know, then why do we need this plan to “send a message”?
Do you think our base is going to be impressed with this?
Do you think the GOP won the shutdown battle in 1995?
These are serious questions and the GOP senators deserve serious, direct answers, not a Cruz (figurative) filibuster and a bunch of talking points. If Cruz has this all figured out, it’s time to explain it to fellow Republicans. If not, maybe he should sit down and listen for a change. (The wholesale rejection of Cruz’s gambit reflects, in part, how widely disliked Cruz is among fellow Republicans and how unsuccessful he has been in building any support for his slash-and-burn behavior.)
Now, some conservatives may worry that this entire episode, as Byron York put it, “ has sown bitterness and resentment among GOP lawmakers.” That animosity is the doing of outside groups like Heritage Action and of Cruz, who certainly knew he was leading his hardline followers into a dead end. Cruz and company have been playing this game for some time, raising expectations and then savaging fellow Republicans who don’t deliver.
In snuffing out the game this time, the GOP senators came together and sternly pushed back against the most destructive elements in the hardline conservative echo chamber. As Cruz’s scheme was collapsing yesterday most of Cruz’s fans among rightwing bloggers and talk show hosts were subdued; no one likes a loser, I suppose. (In fact, by Friday a great number of robust conservative voices had blown the whistle on Cruz’s antics, explaining Cruz’s folly to readers and viewers.) In refusing to indulge Cruz, the Senate Republicans made clear they are staunchly opposed to Obamacare and are also responsible legislators. In the long run, that is good for them, their party and the country.