Flashback: McCain Used Same Tactic Against Obamacare Cruz Is Using Now

Flashback: McCain Used Same Tactic Against Obamacare Cruz Is Using Now

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) supported the tactics that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is using to attempt to defund Obamacare before he was against them, Breitbart News has learned.

In 2009, when Senate Republicans were fighting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s efforts to rush Obamacare through before Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) could be elected in early 2010, McCain joined a strategy to shut down military spending before Christmas because stopping Obamacare was so important.

In late 2009, the Senate was debating Obamacare but had to shift off Obamacare to switch over to deal with military funding which had been included in a Continuing Resolution (CR). McCain, along with Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Bob Corker (R-TN), all voted to hold up military funding before Christmas amid the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to the Senate roll call records.

At that time, Senate Republicans had only had 40 members so they could not hold up Obamacare at a cloture vote. Until Brown won the special election in Massachusetts, they planned to stall to try to hold off Reid as long as they could. They also hoped constituent pressure over Obamacare’s unpopularity would aid them if some Democrats had to face voters over the holidays. As a result, they actually filibustered a military funding bill in an attempt to buy time. 

“Republicans have said their goal is to delay the bill and force Senate Democrats to go home and face their constituents, hoping for some supporters of the measure to return after New Year’s too fearful to back the legislation,” the Washington Post wrote at the time–a strategy that is all too familiar to what Cruz is advocating now. “If the filibuster on the $626 billion defense bill had succeeded, Democrats would have had to scramble to find a way to fund the military operations, because a stopgap funding measure for the Pentagon will expire at midnight Friday. Such an effort to come up with another stopgap defense bill might have disrupted the very tight timeline on health care.”

Why did the Republicans lose then? Several GOP senators abandoned the strategy and voted with Reid to move the Senate along. Those who broke with McCain and the rest of the Senate Republicans were Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Arlen Specter (D-PA) (who had just switched parties), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX); of that group, only Collins still holds office in the U.S. Senate.

The Washington Post noted then that the strategy would have been a “filibuster” of “a massive Pentagon bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and that it was “an unusual move designed to delay President Obama’s health-care legislation.”

While at the time McCain tried to veil his opposition to funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as opposition to earmarks in the bill, the Post noted others, like then-Sen. Sam Brownback (R-TX), were “blunt in their rational for opposing the military legislation.”

“I don’t want health care,” Brownback unapologetically said at the time.

After that GOP strategy failed, Reid was able to pass the Senate version of Obamacare in late 2009. He then used a budget reconciliation process to get past Brown’s filibuster after the House passed its version of the bill.