He spent 21 hours last week debating and denouncing Obamacare on the Senate floor, but it turns out Sen. Ted Cruz wasn’t finished.
The junior senator from Texas, who’s become the face of opposition to the Affordable Care Act, was back in the spotlight Sunday, insisting that if the federal government shuts down in a stalemate over the sweeping health-care law, it will be because of the Democrats, not the GOP.
“Twice now Republicans in the House have compromised. And twice [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid has said, ‘We won’t even have a conversation. I refuse to compromise. We want to fund it all. We want to stick it on the American people,’” Mr. Cruz said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“That’s not a reasonable position. And if we have a shutdown, it will be because Harry Reid holds that absolutist position, and essentially, holds the American people hostage,” he said.
With the health care exchanges scheduled to open Tuesday, the House voted Sunday to delay Obamacare’s implementation for a year and to rescind the tax on medical equipment. Mr. Reid released a statement shortly beforehand rejecting the compromise.
Mr. Cruz said a government shutdown would be “a mistake. I hope he [Mr. Reid] backs away from that ledge that he’s pushing us towards. But that is his position.”
But Democrats — and even a few Republicans — have been more than happy to put the blame for the standoff squarely on the shoulders of the outspoken Mr. Cruz.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, argued Sunday that Republicans are “hell-bent” on shutting down the government.
“After the junior senator from Texas took the floor for 21 hours the other day, this last week, Sen. John McCain followed him for 10 minutes,” said Mr. Durbin on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “There was more wisdom and commonsense in what John McCain said than anything I heard in 21 hours. He said the president won the election.”
And Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, clearly frustrated with the Texas senator, told Fox News on Sunday that he’s against further attempts in the House to modify Obamacare. “I’m tired of having Ted Cruz call the shots for the House Republicans,” he said.
The New York congressman’s remarks echoed earlier comments from John Podesta, chairman of the liberal Center for American Progress.
“Ted Cruz is now running the House of Representatives,” Mr. Podesta said on “State of the Union.” “And I think they’re going to pay a price for this because it’s very clear they’re forcing the government into a shutdown.”
The liberal online magazine Slate ran an article Sunday by CBS News political news director John Dickerson with the headline, “Why Senate Republicans Hate Ted Cruz.”
While the Obamacare debate has revealed a split over tactics on the Republican side, Democrats are also faced with a rift within their party. Labor unions, a traditional Democratic constituency, have also raised alarms over Obamacare.
“The facts are becoming more and more clear that Obamacare isn’t working,” said Mr. Cruz. “There’s a reason unions are jumping ship. One union after another is saying, ‘Let me out.’”