Washington (CNN) – The intraparty war of words between Senate Republicans was on full view on Thursday.
Two tea party-backed senators clashed with a more mainstream conservative over whether to hold final votes either Thursday night or Friday on Obamacare and a controversial spending bill.
In one corner, was Sen. Bob Corker who warned the delay would keep the GOP-controlled House from amending the bill and sending it back to the Senate before Monday's deadline for the government to run out of money.
He accused his fellow senators of holding up the legislation so they could attract additional publicity.
"It's my understanding," Corker said, "that my two colleagues, who I respect, have sent out e-mails around the world and turned this into a show possibly, and, therefore, they want people around the world to watch, maybe them and others, on the Senate floor and that is taking priority over getting the legislation back to the House."
In the other corner were Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah who accused Corker of siding with Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid by voting for procedural motions – known in Senate parlance as "cloture" - that would allow Democrats ultimately to strip language from the bill that would defund the healthcare reform law.
"The senator from Tennessee says a vote in favor of cloture is a vote in favor of the House bill and in favor of defunding Obamacare," Cruz responded, standing just a few feet away from Corker on the Senate floor. "If that's the case, then the question I would pose to my friend from Tennessee, why is Majority Leader Harry Reid going to vote the same way you're proposing to vote? Why is every Democrat in this chamber going to vote the way you're proposing?"
The rare public clash highlighted the stark differences between the wings of the Republican Party in the Senate.
While most are conservative, some, like Cruz and Lee, want to push the ideological envelope even if it risks a government shutdown or default on the debt. Others, like Corker, regularly work across the aisle on contentious issues like immigration, foreign policy, and fiscal issues.
Earlier this week, Cruz, Lee and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, led a non-stop speech on the Senate floor for more than 21 hours that was aimed at defunding Obamacare. The move ruffled many other Senate Republicans who considered the move a stunt that would do little to change Obamacare.
In the end, the three senators voted in favor of the very motion they had filibustered, which Corker bluntly noted.
"This would be an unusual time in the Senate. I don't think ever we've had in the Senate where we had a 21-hour filibuster and then the person carrying out the filibuster voted for the issue they were filibustering," Corker said. "I don't think that's happened in the history of our country."
Cruz said Croker misunderstood the relevance of his vote and that he intended to vote to filibuster the bill on a second procedural vote, which is now planned for Friday afternoon.
As to insisting the vote take place Friday instead of Thursday night, a spokesman for Cruz issued a statement saying the senator wanted the vote to be "out in the full light of day."
"America will be watching closely which senators vote to allow Democrats to fully fund Obamacare, and the vote should be carried out in the open for all to see," said Cruz spokesman Sean Rushton.