Ted Cruz alienates his colleagues with latest government shutdown effort

Ted CruzBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Ted Cruz did it again. He tried to shut down the government just like the disastrous shutdown he orchestrated in October of 2013 (see Ted Cruz does it again by Manu Raju in Politico). Right here at Christmas! Think how well that would have gone over with the American people. Not only that, Cruz blindsided his colleagues while on his self-absorbed mission, demanding on Friday that senators stay in Washington over the weekend, just 10 days before Christmas, causing cancellations of family plans.

There was no sympathy from some Cruz supporters about senators giving up Christmas plans on Friday and Saturday to vote on what was already scheduled to be voted on this week. One Virginia Cruz supporter mocked Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) by writing, “Po’ wittle Senator Ayotte. She doesn’t get to see the Nutcwackah with her daughtaws. Grow up, lady.” Nowhere in the article did I see Ayotte whining. The reporter had simply noted a simple fact that the former prosecutor had planned to see the Nutcracker with her family and would have to cancel.

Leading into the weekend, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had come to an agreement to defer votes until this week, thereby allowing a weekend break for representatives eager to be home with Christmas right around the corner.

Instead, Cruz (R-Texas) and his sidekick Mike Lee (R-Utah) threw a curve ball that backfired on them and gave Democrats the upper hand. Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin with the Washington Post noted that Cruz ended up making more enemies, and the cromnibus bill passed despite his ego (see Senate passes spending, GOP still despises Ted Cruz):

The Senate on Saturday night approved a sweeping $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund most of the federal government through the next fiscal year, turning back a conservative rebellion against President Obama’s immigration policy.

On a vote of 56 to 40, senators passed the spending bill and sent it to Obama, who plans to sign it. The bill’s passage eliminates the threat of a government shutdown and capped days of acrimonious debate on Capitol Hill over the omnibus agreement.

A small group of conservatives, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), had sought to slow debate on the bill by raising concerns with Obama’s immigration policy, forcing a marathon weekend session. The move infuriated their colleagues, particularly Republicans who complained that forcing senators to stay in session produced nothing positive for the GOP and only helped Democrats in their bid to approve a final batch of Obama’s nominees for government posts.

Even the conservative Washington Examiner was not impressed with Cruz’s tactics in their scolding editorial on Monday (see Senate Republicans need to decide whether they’re led by McConnell or Cruz):

Two conservative senators, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, discarded the caucus system and put their own tactical plan into action without warning. It did not prove helpful to their cause.

Cruz and Lee derailed a bipartisan agreement on procedure Friday night. Their actions removed the only major obstacle to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., confirming several minor Obama nominations that Republicans strongly opposed. Because Republicans lacked the votes to block the nominations in question, their best and only leverage was to insist on the use of all debate time, running out the clock on the lame duck Congress. It seemed likely that Democratic senators would not tolerate losing their Christmas just so that Obama could get his surgeon general confirmed.

Cruz’s and Lee’s parliamentary freelancing gave Reid all he needed to advance the schedule by two full days and guarantee the confirmation of these nominations. In exchange for making Reid’s job easy on ramming the nominations through, all Cruz and Lee got was a symbolic floor vote against Obama’s executive action on immigration. It drew the support of only 22 senators. One reason was that if it had succeeded, their motion would not have prevented Obama’s executive action but, rather, would have killed the underlying omnibus bill and caused a government shutdown.

Every army has disagreements among its leaders, but they must agree on tactics to effect their strategy. Every football team must agree on the next play if it is to work. In the Senate, caucus leaders are chosen precisely to make such decisions. The weekend’s events demonstrate that some Republicans are not playing on the same team. This was not a simple, common occurrence of senatorial independence, but rather open defiance of caucus strategy — a decision by junior officers that their own tactical decisions take precedence over those of generals who were chosen for the job.

When this happens, games and battles are lost. [emphasis added]

The Cruz supporters are all out in his defense following his latest debacle but the truth of the matter is it is difficult to work anywhere when unable to get along with your peers. That may be especially true in Congress so in the long run is Cruz hurting the tea party wing of the Republican Party with his shenanigans? Time will tell.

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