Will Ted Cruz's Health Care Speech Help or Hurt Republicans?

The Texas senator's marathon floor speech against the health care law may damage his party.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, continues to speak on the floor of the U.S. Senate at 5:21 a.m. on Wednesday Sept. 25, 2013. Tea party members credit Cruz’s "filibuster" speech as a landmark occasion for the conservative movement.

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Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been speaking on the Senate floor since 2:41 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, continues his quest to defund Obamacare. Cruz can't actually block a vote on the House continuing resolution that would defund the healthcare law, but continues speaking to signal his opposition.

The senator supports a government funding bill passed by the House that "defunds" Obamacare, but is trying to prevent Democratic Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid from bringing it up for a vote, because Reid would then be able to strip out the defund provision. Congress must pass a bill to continue funding the government by September 30, or else the government will shut down. The Senate is likely to pass the House bill sans the Obamacare defunding and send it back to that chamber.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

Cruz vehemently opposes President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law, saying it will cost the government and taxpayers too much. Republicans contend that voters too are against the law, and need their representatives in Washington to fight for its removal.

"Everyone in America knows Obamacare is destroying the economy," Cruz said, promising to talk until he could no longer stand. "Obamacare isn't working."

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the tea party.]

Yet while Cruz's Republican colleagues also oppose the health care law, they don't agree with his methods of scrapping it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who faces a primary challenger from his right in the 2014 election, doesn't support Cruz's faux filibuster. "We'd be hard-pressed to explain why we were opposed to a bill we're in favor of," said McConnell.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina too feared Republicans would have a tough time explaining to voters why GOP opposition to Obamacare was responsible for shutting down the government. "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," said Graham. "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."

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

Frank Bruni of the New York Times called Cruz's all-nighter "grandstanding" and too said the Republican Party may suffer in 2014 if the Texas senator causes a government shutdown:

This week he is blithely putting the lawmakers in his party between a rock and a hard place. If they fail to match the anti-Obamacare passion that he flexed anew in a Senate speech Monday, they'll land on the far right's watch list. But if they match it and the government shuts down, there's a good chance that the Republican Party takes the blame and a hit it can ill afford.

What do you think? Will Ted Cruz's speech against Obamacare help or hurt Republicans? Take the poll and comment below.

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