House Republicans are furious with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for conceding that legislation to defund Obamacare would fail in the Senate, and are accusing him of surrendering the fight and undermining their strategy to effectively repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Gee, thanks for the support,” Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., said Wednesday.
“I hope they can be a little bit more optimistic, because what we are doing is what the majority of Americans want,” Radel added. “If it’s not a full defunding, it is to, at minimum, delay Obamacare. And right now, instead of talking about how they can’t get votes, what I sure would like to see from these good men is them going out and leaning on the [Senate] Democrats to do the right thing.”
Cruz, along with Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has led the movement to defund Obamacare in a must-pass temporary budget bill that's needed to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30. Throughout, Cruz has pressured the House, where Republicans hold the majority, to pass defunding legislation as part of an effort to convince Senate Democrats and President Obama to abandon the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s prized legislation achievement.
The plan is not without political risk, and House Republicans were irked by Cruz's claim that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has the votes he needs in the Democratically controlled chamber to strip out the Obamacare provision in the House budget bill. That, Cruz said, means House Republicans are going to have to stand strong when the bill comes back to them.
Lawmakers' frustration stems from Cruz and his allies hammering them for several weeks to fight for defunding, using slogans like “don’t blink” as a part of a public campaign to pressure House conservatives. Hearing Cruz concede defeat in the Senate before House Republicans even passed their budget bill angered many, including those committed to the defunding strategy.
“I don’t know how you could say, right now, that there are not the votes for it [in the Senate]. I don’t understand that,” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said. “I would suggest that the senator speak to his colleagues and do what we’re doing.”
House Republican leaders who have resisted the defund-or-shutdown strategy as unworkable announced Wednesday that they would include the defunding provision conservatives want in the House budget bill.
The leadership agreed to include defunding in the bill after House conservatives and a band of outside conservative advocacy groups continued to pressure them and helping to defeat an earlier budget bill that would not have automatically cut Obamacare funding.
Cruz, Lee and Rubio lauded the latest House effort.
“Just a few weeks ago, this was deemed impossible," Cruz said in a statement. "We commend House leadership and House Republicans for listening to the people and for taking decisive action to stop Obamacare, the biggest job-killer in America. 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. At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.”