WASHINGTON D.C — Senate Republicans pounded Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz after he made remarks on the floor accusing his colleagues of lying to him about whether his amendments would be allowed on the highway bill during a rare Sunday session.
“Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, these 100 senators have to be able to trust that when a senator says something, he or she will do it. Even if we disagree on substance, that we don’t lie to each other,” he said. “What we just witnessed this morning is profoundly disappointing.”
He went further to say, “Many Republicans railed against the filling of the tree when the Democratic leader was the majority leader. If it was an abuse then, it remains so today,” Cruz argued on the floor. “Indeed, I would note that the current majority leader said at the time, which is the practical effect of filling the tree as to disenfranchise people I and my members represent,” he added noting that “a significant number of the people” are not being heard in the Senate.
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch defended Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his other colleagues saying, “Most egregiously, Mr. President, the Senate floor has even become a place where senators have singled out colleagues by name to attack them in personal terms and to impugn their character—in blatant disregard of Senate rules, which plainly prohibit such conduct.”
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn also defended McConnell. Cornyn took to the floor and criticized Cruz.
“I’ve listened to the comments of my colleague, the junior senator from Texas, both last week and this week, and I would have to say that he is mistaken. First of all, if, in fact the majority leader had somehow misrepresented to 54 senators what the facts are with regard to the Ex-Im Bank, I suspect that you would find other voices joining that of the junior senator but I hear no one else making such a similar accusation,” Cornyn said.
Cruz attempted but failed to foil McConnell during a rare Sunday session. The Texas GOP’er tried to amend the highway bill with a measure that would block the deal the administration made with Iran as well as defund Planned Parenthood.
When asked by reporters if he went too far with his accusations, he responded, “I’m curious to all of our friends the Capitol Hill reporter, because each of the questions you’re asking is the press back from leadership that has been told there,” saying reporters are not questioning the veracity of McConnell’s statements, only questioning Cruz’s civility on the floor.
“He did three things that are inconsistent with simply allowing a Senator to offer an amendment in regular order,” Cruz said of McConnell’s claim that he allowed senators to offer up amendments. “Number one, he didn’t allow a senator to offer an amendment. He offered their amendment forth. That is a marked difference because as majority leader under the Senate rules he has priority recognition, which means he can get in front of any other amendment,” he said.
“If another senator had wanted to offer his own amendment on Export-Import bank, he would have to get recognized and another senator could get recognized in front of whoever was attempting to offer that, if the majority leader had not stepped in to press it himself.”
Cruz also went after McConnell for filling the amendment tree, implying the majority leader was a hypocrite for his actions.
“The third thing he did was that he filed cloture on the amendment, which is an extraordinary step,” Cruz said, adding the only other time McConnell refused to do this was in support of presidential candidate Sen. Maroc Rubio’s Israel amendment during the Corker-Cardin Iran nuclear deal bill.
Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee attached an Obamacare repeal to the highway bill, but it needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and failed 49-43.
“The first Obamacare vote on Sunday will have a 60 vote threshold, and Democrats will likely block it,” Lee said in a statement. “But thanks to the sequencing of the votes we just locked in, Republicans will have the opportunity resurrect that Obamacare amendment later on in the process, and put it back before the Senate in a manner that only requires a simple-majority vote.”
The Export-Import Bank amendment proposed by Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk passed 67-26 despite a push by a bipartisan group to filibuster it.
Cruz’s amendment to block the administration’s deal with Iran was disposed of through parliamentary maneuvering. A second attempt by Lee was made to repeal the Affordable Care Act through an amendment on to the highway bill that would only require a simple majority. However, the amendment needed to be germane to the bill and was objected to by California Sen. Barbara Boxer. The chair sustained the objection and Lee’s amendment was torpedoed.
McConnell wanted to pass the federal highway-funding bill through the Senate sans most amendments. However, he allowed the vote to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank, despite his opposition to the Ex-Im Bank.