Cruz Predicts Senate Defeat on Obamacare Defunding, Asks House to Keep Up Fight

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:05pm

Even before the House passes legislation to keep the government running while cutting funds for Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz is already telling House Republicans to not back down in the next round.

Cruz made the comment in a statement predicting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his Democratic majority will back a spending bill that holds the 2010 health care law harmless.

“Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” Cruz said. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people. President Obama has already granted Obamacare exemptions to big corporations and Members of Congress; he should not threaten to shut down the government just to deny those same exemptions to hard-working American families.”

But just as Cruz was attempting to foist the pressure back on the House, Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, issued a statement reiterating his boss’s contention that the fight is now in the Senate.

“We trust Republicans in the Senate will put up a fight worthy of the challenge that Obamacare poses,” Steel said.

But Cruz and his allies, including Utah Republican Mike Lee, seem to see defeat in their future, and they aren’t content with the minor victory of getting the House GOP to build the Obamacare defunding legislation into the continuing resolution.

The comments Wednesday echo those made by Cruz and others before the House GOP floated the idea of requiring the Senate to vote on defunding the health care law.

“For months, Americans have been telling Washington to fund the operations of government but also protect them from the harmful effects and unfair implementation of Obamacare. The spending proposal the Speaker put forth today shows that if the American people are united, Washington does listen,” Lee said in a statement.

Supporters of the strategy of using the continuing resolution to defund the health care overhaul’s implementation, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, believe that Democrats will be blamed for any shutdown that ensues from a failure to include the defunding language.

“President Obama and his allies in Congress should abandon their threats of shutting down the government and instead work with Republicans to pass this proposal that would keep government open while preventing taxpayer dollars from being used to inflict ObamaCare’s damage on people’s jobs, incomes, current health plans and doctor relationships,” the Florida Republican said in a statement.

Senate Democrats, of course, have no plans of buying that argument.

“Democrats are not going to agree to defund or delay health care reform. It’s just not going to happen,” Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday.

“While I believe the majority of Republicans are interested in working with Democrats to get to a fair budget deal, a few of my Republican colleagues spent the summer riling up the tea party and making them promises that couldn’t be kept,” Murray said on the Senate floor. “And since Republican leaders know they need to find a way to avoid another crisis that would be blamed on them, a full scale civil war has broken out within the Republican Party — they are in absolute disarray — and they are having trouble figuring out how to pull themselves out from the hole they’ve climbed into.”