February 16th, 2014
12:08 PM ET
8 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. just me

    @ patinga4: um, yes, congress did indeed pass a budget, just a coupla weeks ago. It was negotiated, passed in both houses of congress, and sugned. It might of made the news once or twice.

    February 16, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Mark Causey

    Even though I am 100% against the politics of Ted Cruz, if his votes reflect the wishes of the majority of his constituents, I am 100% for him.

    February 16, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. SBP

    The teaparty. LoL

    February 16, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. biodome

    Ted Cruz is nothing more than an anarchist. . He displays all the traits of narcissistic personality disorder and has no respect for institutions. His ego may just cost Republicans the Senate :)

    February 16, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. Ctrygrl

    Somehow Mr. Cruz thinks HIS GOP is just what America wants, not that wimp GOP that still cares a little though precious little about governance. He thinks America wants a return to a time before women's rights, pro-choice, and gays should be illegal. What Mr. Cruz wants is naked, raw power. Mr. Cruz wants to be president and whoever he has to hurt or walk on to get a chance he will. Let us hope in 5 more years the great state of Texas puts Mr. Cruz back home to stay.

    February 16, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. pkMyt1

    Maybe Cruz is a Dem agent trained to infiltrate the GOP and destroy it from within.

    February 16, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the repub/tea bag majority

    I think the only logical step for Cruz and the Tea Bags (check out their latest single, "Nothing Says Patriotism Like Wrecking the Economy") is to formally split from the GOP. Lots of folks are calling for an end to our two-party system; sounds like the time is ripe for the tea bags to do it!

    February 16, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the repub/tea bag majority

    @Tampa Tim: "The bagger party was welcomed by the GOP, and now it is like a cancer to them."

    Ditto for the GOP welcoming the gun nuts, religious nuts, anti-choice nuts, the Quitta from Wasilla ...

    This is what happens when anyone with a working brain knows your policies don't work: you go after low-information voters, swing them around by their short hairs on hot-button issues and hope they don't noticed you're playing them for fools. The glue that keeps it all together? Demonizing "the other" and voter suppression laws.

    Dems, enough is enough of the likes of Cruz and his nonsense. We HAVE to get out and vote on November 4, 2014.

    February 16, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. Name rose54

    Cruz is a loon; a real loon.

    February 16, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. Vicki

    It is good to know how unpopular Cruz is in the Senate. Republicans know that driving the country into default is terrible and worse it is anti-American. He is not a thinking person when he has done his best to cause the country into default. Cruz is going down and he will go down because of his mistakes and because he is a trouble maker. We don't need this man in our government.

    February 16, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. Milk Toast

    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."
    _____________________________________________________

    I think you mean how extreme the right has become here.

    Cruz is an idiot. There is nothing wrong with wanting to balance the budget. However, a national budget is not the same as a household budget, and the Tea Party doesn't seem understand that. You cannot make extreme cuts across the board and expect things to turn out well. All cuts made must be methodical, and they should not be made on false premises, like that all poor Americans are stupid worthless lazy bums and must be abusing food stamps.

    February 16, 2014 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. American Worker

    Good. Cruz is doing the job that must be done in Congress.
    The establishment needs a headache to get it to let the people be.

    Now if we can get the rest of Congress to fulfill their oath of service to do the needed oversight of the other Branches and assigning Special Counsel to balance power in D.C.

    February 16, 2014 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Jack

    McCain is being gracious, Cruz is not! It's that simple

    February 16, 2014 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. S. B. Stein

    Cruz caused a fight when there was no need to do so. I guess Cruz has his mind sent crashing the full faith and credit of the American financial policy and currency. He and the other "tea partiers" don't have a clue as to what the government does or how it works nor do they care as to who it would hurt if the government stops doing something.

    February 16, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. Larry B.

    This un-American Cuban-Canadian is a joke and needs to be sent back to his actual country of origin. He, most definitely, is not a U.S. Citizen nor does he believe in anything other than hatred for America and her principles.

    February 16, 2014 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    This peewee Herman look a like will never be president of USA , maybe SOMIALIA ??????

    February 16, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  17. Wifgried

    Go Ted Cruz!

    February 16, 2014 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  18. Charles

    Cruz is the Joe McCarthy of the 21st Century, and like Joe he needs to fade into history along with the Tea Party and unless they change the Fundamentalist Whites Only Republican club.

    February 16, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  19. Bubba

    Cruz is like the unplanned spawn in every sci-fi horror movie, where the cocky scientists loose control of the disease they created, and the disease destroys its makers.
    It is a two-bit story, and lacks both imagination and talent; but we are entertained by it nonetheless.

    February 16, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. gustifer53

    Just Me: I have to laugh, cause you think it is a BIG deal that Congress passed a budget a couple weeks ago. Where have you been the last 4 years, when the Republic0ns and Teabaggers didn't earn a DIME of their pay??? You must have been in a bunker with the POS Ted "Fidel Castro" Cruz waiting for the ducks to fly overhead...lol

    February 16, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. Mr. Balls

    The Republicans will do something really stoooopid just before the election losing their shot at the Senate.

    February 17, 2014 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  22. Twithers

    Cruz is not a man of principle but a deluded idealist, so self righteous that he's willing to bring the government to a screeching halt just because people do want to do things his way. Yes, there is a debt problem and, yes, it has to be dealt with, but stopping the government for 16 days, at the possible cost of billions to the economy, is not the way to do it. The most frightening thing about this dangerous senator is, even after the catastrophe of the last shutdown, he was willing to do it all over again. He's not helping the country he's hurting it.

    February 17, 2014 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  23. J.V.Hodgson

    Cruz is the archetypal Republican of the last 5years if its an Obama or democratic proposal wrong must be voted down and even more so if Obama supports it.
    Being an independent I don t want the senate to get more Republican Senators like him.
    I then fear for our economy the middle class and poor of this nation.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    February 17, 2014 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  24. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts eat each other as they walk the plank toward November.

    February 17, 2014 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  25. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Cruz creating headaches

    TRUTH
    Always makes Lib / Progressive / Democrats & RINO's
    head hurt !!!

    What ????
    NO more TAX & SPEND ?
    Government is the problem... This can NEVER be...

    February 17, 2014 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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