Texas Sen. Ted Cruz managed to get under the skin of the Republican leadership over the weekend when he attempted to use the budget bill to force a vote on a motion to deny funding to President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration, a move which resulted in the confirmation of several controversial presidential nominations.
The Senate eventually passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was able to begin the confirmation process of 24 nominations, including Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy and Immigration and Customs Enforcement nominee Sarah Saldaña, reports Politico.
"This is ridiculous," said New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who was just one of those voicing displeasure with Cruz.
"I don’t see how conservative ends are achieved. I think it’s counterproductive. Some of the nominations that we had issues with, like the surgeon general, were not going to move forward. Now they’re going to move forward," GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona told Politico.
Cruz did enjoy the support of some of his Republican colleagues, including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
"While the president's executive actions on immigration are reprehensible and deserve a strong response, I value the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution too much to exploit it for political expediency. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund the government so to assert that the House-passed spending bill is unconstitutional is not only inaccurate but irresponsible," said Tennessee Republican Bob Corker in a press release.
Corker also had to cancel a planned official trip to Iraq and Turkey so he could remain in Washington to vote for the budget bill.
While Corker expressed irritation with Cruz, he held a different view of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's filibuster of a must-pass $577 billion defense bill, notes The National Journal.
Coburn was blocking passage of the bill because he objected to the inclusion of public-lands provisions in the bill, which he said were unrelated to national security.
Corker said he did not take issue with Coburn's filibuster because he thought the retiring Oklahoman "needs to do whatever Tom feels is right. He's only got a little time left, and whatever grit and spunk he has left, I think he needs to continue on with it," according to The National Journal.
It would not be the first time Coburn, who has earned the nickname Dr. No, would use procedural rules to block passage of legislation.
In 2007 and 2008, Coburn prevented unanimous consent votes on 90 public lands bills alone, The Hill reports.
One of the reasons for the difference in attitude toward the obstructionist tactics of Cruz and Coburn may be a factor of how their colleagues view their motives.
"His concerns are always legitimate, and I have a lot of respect for him. ... We're going to miss him here, so this is something that is not unusual for him and we all respect," Ayotte told The National Journal.
While others questioned the strategic wisdom of Cruz's crusade.
"I don't see any end goal that can be won, other than irritating people," said GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, according to NBC News.
Fox News' media analyst Howard Kurtz
also noted the distinct difference the media treated Cruz obstruction of Obamacare, which resulted in a government shutdown, and the threatened shutdown by Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren, who objected to changes proposed to the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill.
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