Republican divisions over the party’s strategy in budget battles exploded into the public sphere Wednesday evening.
In feelings that have been brewing privately for some time, House Republicans let their anger out at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). And they accused him of surrendering on the plan to defund the Affordable Care Act (AKA: Obamacare).
Earlier Wednesday, Cruz made a statement that applauded House Republicans for proposing a spending bill that strips funding for Obamacare, a crusade that Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) have led over the past few months.
But Cruz also conceded that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “has the votes” in the Senate to strip the defunding language from the continuing-resolution bill (meaning that the Senate could never pass the defunding bill).
And he called on House Republicans to “stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.” In other words, he called on the House GOP to shoulder all of the burden of the defunding fight — the fight of which he has been the face.
That concession, before the fight has even begun, enraged House conservatives. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) issued perhaps the most terse statement.
“House Republicans have stood firm. We have voted to defund, repeal & delay Obamacare dozens of times. It is time for Sens. Cruz & Lee to show they can hold the line against Senate Democrats,” Duffy said.
“Let’s hope they do not surrender before the fight even begins.”
In a Tweet, Duffy was even sharper in his language.
Here’s Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.):
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) put it a little nicer:
The blame game has begun. Both House and Senate conservatives likely realise that the gambit is hopeless, and that the Senate won’t pass — and President Obama won’t sign — a bill that defunds Obamacare.
The animosity toward Cruz has also been building for quite a while among House Republican leadership. According to National Review, aide to Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) got into a heated argument with a Cruz staffer that ended with the former saying Cruz was “not dealing in reality.”
One House GOP aide complained to Business Insider Tuesday that the Obamacare defunders, including Cruz, don’t have a plan beyond expecting Obama to sign a rollback of his signature legislative achievement in a grand, Rose Garden ceremony.
Responding to Cruz’s statement, Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said only, “We trust Republicans in the Senate will put up a fight worthy of the challenge that Obamacare poses.”
The back-and-forth left some conservatives flabbergasted, like RedState editor and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson:
Holy cow the meltdown from House Republicans is astounding.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) September 18, 2013
Brad Dayspring, a strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, joked that everyone needed to calm down:
Everyone needs a timeout.
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) September 18, 2013
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