Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz spent 21 hours and 19 minutes telling the Senate why they should defund Obamacare. This makes the speech one of the longest speeches ever made in the U.S. Senate and also highlighted a major rift that’s growing within the GOP. Not only did he manage to anger Democrats in favor of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but he also rattled his own political party, deepening fault lines within the GOP.
Cruz lectured by McCain
Cruz started speaking precisely at 2:41 p.m. on Tuesday and finished speaking around noon on Wednesday. Dan Roberts of The Guardian reports that right after he sat down after finishing his speech-a-thon, which received applause from the more conservative Republicans, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain started lecturing him on respecting laws which have been democratically passed.
McCain reminded Cruz about how much of a fight the party had put up against Obamacare “in a fair and honest manner,” be he said they lost, mainly because they were in the minority. He said in a democracy, it’s almost always the majority which governs and passes the laws. McCain also took issue with Cruz’s comparison of the fight against Obamacare to World War II, saying that the comparison was “a great disservice” to U.S. soldiers who fought the Nazis in the war.
Cruz reads Green Eggs and Ham
One of the more interesting decisions Cruz made in speaking against Obamacare was reading the Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham. It was apparently lost on him that the point of that story is that people should try something before they decide that they don’t like it.
Cruz hits back in an interview
After news about McCain’s lecture to him came out, Cruz struck back in a radio interview with conservative host Rush Limbaugh. He said he was surprised by “the defeatist attitude” in the Senate and said that Republicans had been “beaten down” and were “scared of this fight.”
Republican leaders in the Senate urged their conference members not to risk having the government shut down in their attempts to defund Obamacare. The battle now shifts to the House of Representatives where Republican House Speak John Boehner will be pressured into allowing a majority vote on the bill or else end up being blamed for closing the government. Current spending expires Monday night.
If the Senate doesn’t finish its series of planned votes until Sunday, Boehner will have less than 24 hours to work a compromise within the GOP before spending expires. This could split the GOP party even further if he has to rely on Democrats in the house to pass the bill so that the government will stay open.