February 16th, 2014
12:08 PM ET
7 months ago

Panel: Cruz creating headaches for McConnell, GOP

(CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is not making many friends in his own party after his latest attempt to block the Senate from raising the debt ceiling.

The Senate voted 67-31 Wednesday to break Cruz's filibuster as a dozen Republicans crossed party lines to vote with the Democrats against Cruz.

"[Cruz] forced their votes but you have several senators who are in purple states where shutting down the government, where leading us to the brink of economic ruin is not playing well for them," NPR correspondent Corey Dade said on CNN's State of the Union. "They're this close, they think, to retaking the Senate. They don't want to toy with that."

The bill was signed by President Barack Obama Saturday after passing through the Senate after a 55-43 vote that was strictly split on party lines, extending the debt ceiling through March 2015. The House, led by the GOP, passed the measure on a 221-201 vote. According to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the debt ceiling had to be raised by Feb. 27 or the government would default on its duties and shut down some of its programs.

Among the Republicans who joined the Democrats in voting down Cruz's filibuster were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, both who are up for re-election.

"My job is to protect the country when I can and to step up and lead on those occasions when it's required. That's what I did," McConnell said at a campaign event in Louisville. McConnell is facing a primary challenge in Kentucky against Matt Bevin.

Republican strategist Kevin Madden defended McConnell's move, arguing that Cruz is not a typical Senator that can be easily reined in by the party leader.

"I think what's interesting is that a lot of the usual tools you have at your disposal as a majority leader to punish somebody like Ted Cruz, they aren't there because Ted Cruz does not care about moving up in the Senate," Madden said, also appearing on CNN's State of the Union. "He doesn't care what his profile is with inside Washington."

"They had to just go tell [Cruz] to go sit down," Dade said. "I mean, they pulled rank on him, slapped him and said to go sit down."

Madden also believes that while some might initially see McConnell's vote as potentially damaging, the minority leader may be in a better position following the vote.

"I think back in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell isn't in any worse off place than he was before this vote," Madden said. "He has had votes for raising the debt limits before that conservatives back there who didn't like him wanted to use it against him.”

“I talked to one really smart reporter up on Capitol Hill who covers the Senate who said, 'Look, this was one of those cases where we skip to the last chapter. We ultimately knew that this was going to have to happen on the Senate side and it did. And I think that Mitch McConnell will take a little bit of a hit on the early side but he's still in a much stronger position because we'll have the debt ceiling showdown off the table."

Margie Omero, a Democratic strategist, also agreed that perception of McConnell will most likely not change too much as a result of the vote.

"I think Mitch McConnell's going to be seen as a political operator regardless of this," Omero said on CNN's State of the Union. "This was true before that vote; it's going to be true after the vote. This is just another piece of evidence, but I think a lot of this is already baked in the cake for primary voters and we'll see if Matt Bevin, his primary challenger, can use that to his advantage or not."

While McConnell and other Republicans have shunted Cruz for his actions, some conservative activists are lauding him for taking a stand against the debt limit and looking forward to a possible presidential run in 2016.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who has heavily criticized Cruz in the past for his role in the government shutdown last fall, took a softer tone on Cruz when speaking to CNN's Candy Crowley on State of the Union.

"I understand where Senator Cruz is coming from," McCain said. "We have a cordial relationship, and I respect his right to do - exercise his rights as the United States senator, which he did last week, but I allege that there was no plan. There was no plan once we had taken the United States on the brink of this financial crisis that we were approaching. I appreciate our leadership voting the way that they did, even though they face primary oppositions, especially Senator McConnell, but [Cruz] exercises his rights."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    A budget is finally passed, but then Cruz doesn't think we should pay our bills that the budget incurred? The scary part is that some people actually agree with him.

    February 16, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    The bagger party was welcomed by the GOP, and now it is like a cancer to them.

    February 16, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Jsa Vet MN

    As Tim said – the GOP welcomed the baggers with open arms and now they can pay for having helped promote the vision of America from the Koch boys perspective

    February 16, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. GARY

    What the other 99 Senators need to do is shut him up everytime he opens his mouth. He believes he was elected by the American people. He was elected by a majority of Texas voters. Hardley the American people. What the other Senators need to do is like they do in other countries, when he starts to talk, start booing. Reject everything he does, just like he does. When Texas realizes that they are no longer represented in the Senate, maybe they will vote him out.
    Yes, I know how the system works. He shut down the government, now all it will take is 99 to shut him down. Seems like they have a good start.

    February 16, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    He's doing nothing positive for the rest of the country, either.

    February 16, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. patinga4

    TampaTim – They did not pass a budget. Congress passed a debt limit increase so they could borrow more money to increase our $17 trillion debt. What is really scary is that some people think that's a good thing. TeaParty people, like Ted Cruz, are doing what America sent them to do – stop wasteful government spending.

    February 16, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. rs

    Mr. Cruz is what the GOP gets when it creates an astroturf radical tin-pot group (i.e. the TEA Party) to keep the fringe riled up. It doesn't help that the TEA Party was birthed by Carl Rove with Texas oil money, and now might as well be an arm of Koch Chemicals, Inc.
    Frankenstein's monster is home to roost.

    February 16, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. patinga4

    TampaTim – Congress did not pass a budget. They passed a debt limit increase so government could increase our $17 trillion debt. The real scary part is some people think government should just keep spending without having any $ to pay the debt.
    The TeaParty people, like Ted Cruz, are doing what they were voted in to do – stop wasteful government spending.
    My suggestion to old-timer Republicans – like McConnell – is to listen to those TeaParty people and embrace what they are doing, or they will find themselves out of a job after next election.

    February 16, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Vence

    Ted Cruz is right republicans hate to tell the truth. Cruz is at least a man of principle, not like the rest of republicans and democrats. I wish he run as independent.

    February 16, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    I say instead of blaming others, they better blame themselves. Of course, GOP/tea party is so cancerous.

    February 16, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Ted, you are tearing your party apart! Keep up the good work!

    February 16, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    I have the answer. Deport him as the terrorist he is!
    The repugs, when they had a chance, could have put a stop to rafaelito and his kind but they wanted to let the unruly petulant child take over the hatred of our President so now . . . . . Oh well.

    February 16, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Gentlewarrior

    You people are either with their heads on the sand or don't want to understand that to continue to raise the debt ceiling is completely irresponsible and damaging to our nation's future. Ted Cruz is right. We cannot continue to spend money we don't have.
    Do me favor, stop insulting the Tea Party. They are the only ones who truly care for the wellbeing of this country, Libs on the other hand simply think about the now, but you are so selfish that you are incapable of thinking about who is going to pay for this awful debt. 18 trillion today, 20 trillion a year from now, 40 trillion 5 years from now? Bankruptcy is just around the corner. Think about it, Obi will be gone while you and I will be worrying about what to eat tomorrow morning.

    February 16, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. VoteForPedro

    Texas must be so proud for voting this guy into any public office of any responsibility.

    February 16, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. freedom

    This president is derailing America. Cruz is the only one with guts to stand up to him. He didn't become a senator to join the Washington machine. He is working for the people who elected him – which is worlds apart from what the president is doing.

    February 16, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Hector Slagg

    Somebody has to speak up for fiscal responsibility, eh? The National debt is now larger than the gross National Product. It is the people that will pay the bill, one way or the other. How much longer before everything collapses?

    February 16, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Please CNN , would you investigate how much Senator Ted Cruz , family and friends profited financially , directly or indirectly from the government shutdown .

    This guy is a crook who pretends to have the ideals of a patriot saint , he's a fraud .

    February 16, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    Send the Canadian terrorist back to his country of birth Canada. If they want him. He and Ford can start a new career as clowns.

    February 16, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  19. Hugh Harvey

    Many of us I in Texas wish he would go away somewhere. He is embarrassing. Intelligence is very weak.

    February 16, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. penguin

    The sad thing is that most don't understand the difference between the National Debt and a budget deficit. The right wing thinks that Obama must be a big government spender even though government spending now is less than it was under bush. Government debt is increasing even with less government spending

    February 16, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. James

    The Tea Party mentality is the direct result of the right-wing propaganda machine's extensive use of dis-information, manufactured doubt and fabricated outrage. Being the main concentration point for far-right extremists they've become, in their self-imposed isolation from rational thought, so completely incapable of believing anything that doesn't support their world view that they're now commonly acknowledged among their peers as an absolute embarrassment to the GOP.

    February 16, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Tommy G

    Poor, poor lefties hate the TEA Party because the TEA Party killed their backside in 2010 and took the House from the Democrats, thus stopping Obama and the Democrats far left agenda to destroy the country. Guess what? 2014 is going to be worse for you clowns now that the TEA Party people know Democrats used the IRS to target them and suppress their legal involvement in two elections. Thanks to Obamacare and the Liar of the Year in the White House the Democrats are going to be slaughtered wholesale, especially in the Senate.

    February 16, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Brian

    the fact that the right in this country identifies more with Russia than the left in this country speaks volumes of how extreme the left has become here.

    February 16, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Tampa Tim

    patinga4 – I think you slept through December and January. The budget passed and was signed.

    February 16, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. Namelinda

    Ted Cruz own party members told him to sit down. They did what is in the best interest of the country. Ted Cruz and his Tea Party have only their interest in play. Ted cruz will never be President of the US because the majority of Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities will not vote for him. When they say Tea Party we say KKK!

    February 16, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
1 2 3