Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) got into a tense back-and-forth on the Senate floor Thursday over the Texas Republican’s 21-hour anti-Obamacare speech and the House-passed bill that defunds President Obama’s health care overhaul.
Corker accused Cruz of being “confused” and argued Senate Republicans should vote in favor of cloture on the bill sent over from the House because it defunds Obamacare. However, Cruz was quick to remind his colleague that a vote in favor of cloture is a vote in “favor of granting the majority leader [Harry Reid] the ability to fund Obamacare.”
Corker also asked Cruz why he voted for a motion to proceed on the House-passed continuing resolution after he spent 21 hours “filibustering” the bill. He told Cruz, “y’all have sent out released, emails and you want everybody to be able to watch,” but added that the so-called filibuster was not in the best interests of the country or conservative policy.
Cruz seemingly went into “prosecutor”-mode, questioning Corker on every point.
“I know he must’ve made a misstatement when he moments ago suggested that those of us who participated in the filibuster the other day, somehow changed our position in voting for the motion to proceed,” Cruz responded, arguing that he repeatedly stated he would vote for a motion to proceed.
“The senator from Tennessee, being learned in Senate procedure, knows that there’s a big difference between that vote on Wednesday … [because] the vote tomorrow on cloture on the bill is a very different bill,” he added. “And so as I said during the filibuster two days ago…it is the vote tomorrow, cloture on the bill, that matters.”
Cruz said any lawmaker who votes in favor of cloture is “voting in favor of granting the majority leader the ability to fund Obamacare.”
“And I know my friend from Tennessee understands that, so I’m sure his statement suggesting that the vote on the motion to proceed meant anything other than what it obviously meant, I know that was a statement in error,” he told Corker.
In response, Corker argued the bill passed by the House defunds Obamacare, therefore, Senate Republicans should support the bill and therefore vote in favor of cloture. He didn’t address the fact that Majority Leader Harry Reid will undoubtedly restore funding to Obamacare in the Senate — so Cruz reminded him.
Cruz hit back, asking why Sen. Reid and every other Democrat would also be voting in favor of cloture if supporting the motion was the same as voting to defund Obamacare.
So Corker made the same argument about Cruz voting in favor of a motion to proceed, which had unanimous consent in the Senate, meaning Reid and Cruz voted the same way.
“Does the senator from Tennessee dispute that the vote Wednesday was a vote to take up the bill?” Cruz shot back. “The vote tomorrow will be a vote that will do two things, if there are 60 votes…It will, number one, cut off all debate, and number two, what makes the vote tomorrow so significant is” because Reid will restore all Obamacare funding with an amendment and 51 votes.
Corker responded by pointing out that the post-cloture procedure has been in place for a long time.
Watch the tense debate below: