WASHINGTON — After 21 hours of trying to convince all of his Republican colleagues to join him in opposing a Senate procedural vote, Sen. Ted Cruz fell short — by a lot.
It was not a surprise to anyone that the measure passed. The vote, which was a motion to end debate on the House continuing resolution that defunded Obamacare, passed 79-19. Twenty-five Republicans joined Democrats in voting yes. Nineteen Republicans voted no.
Cruz had launched into a near-daylong speech earlier in the week to protest Obamacare, and urged all Republicans to join him in blocking an end to debate on the House spending bill. He argued that a vote in favor would be a vote to fund the health care law, because inevitably, Majority Leader Harry Reid would be able to strip out the defunding provision with a simple majority vote. The vote to end debate required 60 votes.
As expected, Senate Democrats were able to strip language that would have defunded the health care law on a party line vote, 54-44, and the continuing resolution passed as well. The bill is now sent back to the House.
"The House was always in the position were it was going to lead," Cruz said after the vote. "I know from my perspective ... we look forward to helping and supporting the House, standing up and doing the right thing."
A continuing resolution needs to pass the House this weekend, and then be approved again by the Senate by Oct. 1, or the government will shut down. Many Republicans, who are united in their opposition to the health care law, felt that Cruz's hardball tactics were unnecessary and his ultimate goal to defund the health care law — even at the risk of shutting down the government — was unrealistic. Many were angry with Cruz for publicly calling out Republicans and trying to force their hand.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee clashed with Cruz on Thursday of stalling a vote on the bill and accused him of trying to showboat.
"They want people around the world to watch maybe them and others on the Senate floor," Corker said. "And that is taking priority over getting legislation back to the House so they can take action before the country's government shuts down."
Cruz argued he merely wanted the vote at a time when the public could watch.
The GOP Senate leadership team voted for cloture on the bill — including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, John Thune, and Cruz's Texas colleague John Cornyn. They argued that they were supporting the House bill, and opposed funding for Obamacare.
Cruz was able to ignite his conservative base with his speech. Tea party activists flooded the phone lines of Republican (and Democratic) senators urging them to vote against the measure. Several conservative House Republicans were in the Senate chamber for a vote.
The group FreedomWorks blasted the Republican senators who supported the motion in an email with the subject "They betrayed you."
"Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul did everything they could to Defund ObamaCare. But, Establishment Republicans stabbed them in the back. They gave Obama an easy out. They helped fund ObamaCare," wrote FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe.
Correction: Twenty-five Republicans voted yes. An earlier version of this article misstated this number. (9/27/13)