At some point in the next few days we’ll have series of votes — on cloture to get to the bill, on cloture for the House continuing resolution itself, on any amendments to strip the House CR of the defunding provision (the “real” test of support for Obamacare, as Sen. Mitch McConnell explained on Tuesday) and then a vote on the Senate version of the CR. The last two will be party-line votes, all Republicans after all have always favored getting rid of Obamacare and all Dems are sticking by it. (Filibuster stunts aside, that has always been crystal clear.)
Then it gets interesting. The Senate version goes back to the House likely sometime this weekend, with the clock ticking toward a shutdown. The House presumably will send something back, perhaps a delay in Obamacare’s individual mandate or nixing the congressional exemption or maybe a Keystone XL pipeline provision. Once House CR #2 comes back to the Senate, Cruz to be consistent — and he’s nothing but consistent — would have to filibuster it, right? He said he’d do anything to stop Obamacare. If he filibustered a bill with no Obamacare funding then he certainly would have to do so with a bill that funds Obamacare.
Now Cruz could retreat at that point, making obvious how ludicrous was the exercise in the first place. Or, he could (maybe after the shutdown clock ran out) force and then lose (very badly) a cloture vote. Or he could vote for a House bill, putting him in the same camp as Senate Democrats. It will be interesting to see.
One thing we do know, however, is that whatever he does will be heralded by his legion of sycophants at Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, et al. They are dutiful Cruz apologists and whatever he does will be not only condoned but also celebrated. The hardcore right-wing bloggers who transcribe leaks from his office as gospel will be enraptured. Jim DeMint will have raised a boatload of money.
As we go further and further into the Twilight Zone of Cruz politics fewer elected Republicans will go along with his antics and his conservative media cheerleaders will narrow. (Many conservative journalists have already jumped clear of the Cruz bandwagon.) Those who remain with Cruz will be at fever pitch. It’s one way to build a lucrative career, but it is the inverse of what it takes to build an electoral majority. Once again Cruz is entirely at odds with the fortunes of the GOP. The DNC will be delighted.