Sen. Cruz Goes it Alone to Defund Obamacare

Republican senators are irritated with Cruz's crusade and say it hurts party.


Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, has gotten little support from fellow Republican senators on his proposal to defund Obamacare.

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, just won't let it go.

He vowed to fight off Obamacare, no matter the costs, through the latest fiscal crisis - and judging by his pledge for a talkathon on the Senate floor Tuesday, he's not ready to give up.

[READ: Ted Cruz Won't Let Obamacare Fight Go]

But more obstacles are mounting.

Cruz is taking an unconventional approach, urging fellow Republicans to vote against moving on to debate a House bill that would defund Obamacare. He is in favor of defunding Obamacare, but against this proceeding to the bill because the vote will allow Majority Leader Harry Reid to strip out the "defund Obamacare" provision with a simple majority vote later in the week.

If Republicans vote against moving onto the bill, a government shutdown would likely be the outcome.

Knowing the high stakes, myriad GOP senators have turned their backs on Cruz's proposal.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who some expected to endorse Cruz's strategy because of an upcoming GOP primary, dismissed the Texas senator's efforts.

[READ: Why a Government Shutdown Is Good for Ted Cruz]

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who has a less than amiable relationship with Cruz and holds considerable power as the minority whip, also left Cruz to pursue the strategy without leadership support.

Cruz, who wears a nickname "wacko bird" proudly, maintains he's not concerned about his reputation within the corridors of Capitol Hill even as Republicans murmur publicly about how the freshman senator's campaign may come at a steep cost for the party.

"There is a belief that getting the majority in 2014 is possible and we don't want to go down roads that make it harder," says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "We have given away five seats in the last four years. I'd like to change that dynamic and try to grow the party. Defunding Obamacare is a goal all Republicans share, but the tactics we deploy in achieving that goal can have a backlash."

While many lawmakers make it a priority to build relationships within the Senate chamber, many Republicans are not sure Cruz is the team player they expect members to be.

"Debate is healthy, differences of opinion are healthy, your ability to unify after you have a difference of opinion is the key. Whether this is a divisive situation or a unifying situation remains to be seen," says Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

Cruz dismisses the glad handing many of his colleagues engage in. Instead, he says his constituents back home keep him from backing away from what most senators - Democrats and Republicans - have dubbed an impossible fight.

"I don't know who is on his side at this point," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says. "At this point, from what we have heard from McConnell and Cornyn and what I have heard from other Republican senators, they do not agree with this strategy."

[ALSO: Republicans Vote to Defund Obamacare in Spending Bill]

Cruz is not all alone, however. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who originally pressed to use the country's funding bill to stop Obamacare, still stands in support of Cruz's plan, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has yet to decide whether he will gamble on Cruz's strategy.

Meanwhile, Democrats are forging ahead under the assumption that Cruz won't deter them. They are not only working to remove the mechanism to defund the president's health care law, but leadership is also entertaining a proposal to shorten the funding bill so it only covers government operations through Nov. 15 instead of the House-proposed Dec. 15 deadline.

Democratic leaders argue that shortening the time frame will allow the Congress to get back to the regularly scheduled appropriations process, which outlines the federal government's new spending priorities.

"We are repeating last year's budget over and over again with a CR. That is a waste of federal money," Durbin says. "The sooner we can get back to regular order, the better for this institution in Congress."

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