Politico’s Burgess Everett became the latest mainstream media reporter to inaccurately smear Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) late Sunday, attempting to argue in his headline that Cruz is trying to “scramble” to “salvage” his Obamacare defunding strategy.
“Ted Cruz and his allies are fighting a battle they will almost certainly lose in the Senate this week,” Everett wrote for Politico in a story posted late Sunday. “The freshman Republican from Texas, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and some vocal House conservatives, pushed House Republican leaders to pass a bill Friday that funds the government until Dec. 15 at a $986 billion annual funding level but denies money for Obamacare’s implementation. That defunding provision is a nonstarter with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who says it’s ‘dead’ in his chamber.”
But this is not an accurate representation of Cruz’ plan. This entire strategy is what Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) articulated from the start. In interviews with Breitbart News from July, both Cruz and Lee laid out exactly this strategy.
In the next paragraph of Everett’s piece, he wrote: “After months of fiery rhetoric, Cruz and his allies are scrambling to salvage their strategy. For starters, Cruz wants Reid to make an exception to Senate rules that would make it easier for Republicans to block Obamacare funding.”
Everett said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to “begin Monday by setting up a procedural vote on the House bill that will require 60 votes to pass” and then Reid “plans to hold a simple majority vote on stripping the Obamacare defunding measure and send a clean continuing resolution back to the House, possibly just a day or two before a potential shutdown.”
“Cruz is asking Reid to subject the vote on removing the Obamacare provision to a 60-vote threshold instead of ‘abusing his power,'” Everett wrote. “That sort of agreement would require the consent of all 100 senators, which isn’t going to happen.”
For Everett to say that such a unanimous consent agreement from the Senate “isn’t going to happen” is a stretch at best. Cruz has threatened to lead a talking Senate floor filibuster until Senate Republicans unite to lead a procedural filibuster–which would require 41 votes. Breitbart News has reported before that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could deliver that number. McConnell faces re-election and a primary challenge in Kentucky next year.
If Reid and all the Senate Democrats block the fair floor vote Cruz is fighting for–a 60-vote threshold on amendments post-cloture requiring bipartisan support, Reid and the Senate Democrats will in effect be choosing to shut down the government. Reid and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were unable to accomplish this when they passed Obamacare on strictly partisan political lines. The power rests with Reid and the Democrats now: have a fair floor fight, or shut the government down. It is their choice, and it is McConnell’s choice on whether he will deliver the votes necessary to accomplish this.
Politico, an inside-the-beltway publication, is well aware that this is the case, and should know better than to publish what Cruz has deemed talking points from President Barack Obama’s White House.
Politico’s Everett cites former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s op-ed in Breitbart News this weekend, throwing her weight behind Cruz’s effort. But Politico did not quote the part of Palin’s op-ed that is relevant to this part of Cruz’s fight. “If the Senate doesn’t get behind Ted Cruz’s efforts to defund Obamacare, it won’t be because of any failure on Ted’s part. It’ll be because there weren’t enough principled leaders to stand with him, and that would be a tragic loss, not for Ted, but for America.”
Breitbart News explained Cruz’s path to victory this weekend:
First, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brings the House continuing resolution (CR) to the floor next week, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to deliver 41 Republican votes to filibuster it until Senator Reid agrees not to try and restore funding for Obamacare. McConnell has the power to ensure that Reid cannot get an amendment onto the bill that strips the Obamacare defunding language with a simple majority vote. As Breitbart News laid out on Friday, McConnell has closed down one pathway that Reid could use:
If [Reid] introduces an amendment before the Senate votes on cloture for the House CR[, t]hat would require a 60-vote threshold, and McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart told Breitbart News that if Reid attempted that tactic, all Senate Republicans would stand together to block it.
However, a major avenue is still open through which Reid can get the amendment onto the bill with a simple majority. If McConnell decides Obamacare is worth fighting in earnest on must-pass legislation (ie non-symbolic votes), then he will deliver the 41 necessary votes to filibuster until Reid is forced to agree to a clean up-or-down Senate floor vote on the Obamacare defunding CR the House just passed. There is something McConnell can do using his power that could accomplish this: Filibuster the House CR until there is a unanimous consent agreement that any amendments added to it after cloture is invoked would also each require a 60-vote threshold. The power rests now with McConnell. Delivering the 41 votes is essential to help Ted Cruz.
Politico’s Everett seems to have based his entire article on an interview he did with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who he does not even cite until the second page of his story. “The question is whether the Senate is under Cruz control,” Durbin said. “I hope they’re not. I’ve appealed to some of the more sensible Republicans in their caucus that they have to step up. I don’t hear it from McConnell, I don’t hear it from Cornyn. We’ll just have to hear it from some members of their caucus if we can avoid this national disaster.”