A tea party leader said Tuesday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may no longer be worthy of his group’s support after the senator, a Kentucky Republican, announced he will not support Sen. Ted Cruz’s plan to filibuster Obamacare.
“If Mitch McConnell is not going to support efforts to defund Obamacare and in fact is going to work against them, then Tea Party groups simply need to abandon him,” Judson Phillips, the head of Tea Party Nation, wrote on the group’s website.
Mr. McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Monday they will not support Mr. Cruz’s plan to block the Senate from taking up a House bill that defunds the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Cruz, Texas Republican, and Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, want their colleagues to stop the Senate from supporting a procedural vote that would open the door for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to strip out a provision in the House bill that defunds Obamacare.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Mr. McConnell said, “I just don’t happen to think filibustering a bill to defund Obamacare is the best route to defunding Obamacare.”
“All it does is shut down the government and keep Obamacare funded, and none of us want that,” he said. “That would be the result of filibustering.”
Mr. Phillips’ group and The Teaparty.net, another national arm of the movement, endorsed Mr. McConnell earlier this year — a position at odds with local tea party groups that are backing Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who is challenging Mr. McConnell in the Kentucky GOP primary.
Mr. Phillips suggested Tuesday that he will not support Mr. Bevin and said there is still time for his group and other branches of the movement to find another candidate to put up against Mr. McConnell, who is seeking a sixth term in office.
“If Mitch McConnell will not go to the mat to stop Obamacare, then it shows what his tenure as Majority Leader would be like,” Mr. Phillips said. “We will gain nothing if we have a Republican Senate Majority Leader who acts just like John Boehner.”
“It is not too late for McConnell to do the right thing,” he wrote. “The question is … will he?”