Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday sought to explain why a day earlier he voted in favor of opening a government funding bill to debate even though he had just spent nearly 22 hours on the Senate floor filibustering the same measure.
In a conference call with mostly Cruz-friendly conservative bloggers, the Texas Republican freshman called on the bloggers to help him get the message out that the most critical vote isn't to open debate but rather to close debate and move the bill toward a final vote. That vote is scheduled for Friday and Cruz said he intends to try to defeat the measure then.
"Everything you can do to focus the attention [Friday] on the cloture vote as the real vote that matters," Cruz implored.
Cruz used the call to refocus attention on the House, where the Senate bill will head as soon as this weekend, after Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., strips out the provision that would defund the health care law.
"House Republicans should continue to stand their ground," Cruz said. "If the House holds firm, Harry Reid has no ability to muscle the House of Representatives if they stand their ground. In many ways, the most important role that I can play ... is to serve as a cheerleader, encouraging and supporting the House Republicans to stand with the American people.
Cruz, said the Democratic almost certainly won't defeat the government funding bill that restores Obamacare funding, but he suggested it's not too late to convince enough GOP Senators to vote with him Friday to prevent the bill from advancing to a final vote.
"Whether Senate Republicans vote against giving Harry Reid the power to fund Obamacare will depend on whether Senate Republicans listen to their constituents," Cruz said. "Every Senate Republican ran on fighting Obamacare. I guarantee you, the constituents of every Senate Republican, and for that matter every Senate Democrat, their constituents understand that Obamacare is a train wreck."
Cruz spoke on the Senate floor for 21 hours and 19 minute between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon in hopes of rallying the public and other Republicans behind his effort to stop the Senate from passing a government funding bill that includes money for the health care law. Cruz and every other senator, including opponents of the bill, voted in favor of starting debate on the bill.
Cruz said if Republicans "stick together" on Friday, it will pressure red-state Democrats up for election in 2014 to vote to block Obamacare funding.
Republicans have been publicly and privately criticizing Cruz because they see his tactic as politically dangerous for the party, which polls show would be blamed for a government shutdown if no spending bill is passed by Tuesday.
"Every Republican that goes out and throws rocks at the effort to defund Obamacare is ensuring that no Democrat will cross the aisle," Cruz said.