At the urging of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), House Republicans
voted overwhelminglyFriday for a bill that funds the government while de-funding Obamacare.
Now, Cruz is urging his colleagues to filibuster the House bill as soon as it reaches the Senate.
It makes a little more sense than it sounds like.
Cruz argued that a filibuster is necessary to keep Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from using what he called “procedural gimmicks” to strip language defunding the Affordable Care Act.
“If Reid pursues this plan — if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund Obamacare with a partisan vote of only Democrats — then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in,” Cruz said in a statement.
“Now is a time for party unity; Senate Republicans should stand side-by-side with courageous House Republicans.”
Cruz’s statement will put pressure on moderate Republicans — and the 14 Republicans who have gone on-record as opposing his strategy — to stand with him.
But the statement also reflects how difficult it will be to actually carry out his plan in the Senate. He acknowledged on Wednesday that Reid will likely succeed in stripping the Obamacare defunding langauge from the bill. But by saying as much, he infuriated House Republicans who accused him of waving a white flag.
The “procedural gimmicks” Cruz objects to are in keeping with normal Senate rules.
According to a Democratic Senate aide, Democrats will introduce an amendment to strip the House language defunding Obamacare after securing 60 votes to limit debate. Because of Senate rules, they can then strip the language by a simple majority vote. Republicans’ only opportunity to filibuster will come before the stripping amendment has passed.
The irony in this situation is that if Republican senators do filibuster, they would be blocking passage of a bill that still would include the language to strip Obamacare funding. It was a scenario Reid seemed keenly aware of when releasing a statement Friday afternoon reacting to the House vote.
“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown,” Reid said in the statement.
“I am glad to see more and more of my moderate Republican colleagues speaking up against the vocal, irrational minority within their ranks. But only time will tell if common sense will prevail.”
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