Senate Republican leadership chastised Sen. Ted Cruz for his accusation that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lied about a deal being struck to bring a controversial measure to a vote.
As reported by Western Journalism, Cruz, in a speech from the Senate floor Friday, called out McConnell for lying to him and his Republican Senate colleagues about whether there was a deal made to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in May (a measure strongly supported by Republicans) in exchange for bringing the re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank (strongly supported by Democrats) to a vote.
Many conservative Republicans, including Cruz, believe the Ex-Im Bank, which uses taxpayer dollars to subsidize American exports, is a boondoggle and a blatant example of crony capitalism that should be eliminated.
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Cruz recounted seeing senators huddling on the Senate floor in May, while the vote regarding TPA was held up.
After the vote, Cruz asked McConnell point-blank at a Republican senators lunch whether there was a deal cut to get Democrats to support TPA, in exchange for a vote on the Export-Import bank re-authorization. The Texas senator stated in his Friday speech that McConnell repeated three times to the group, “There is no deal,” like “Saint Peter” of old, said Cruz.
Yet last week, McConnell brought the amendment forward himself to include the Ex-Im Bank re-authorization in the highway bill, Cruz observed. When he calls up an amendment as a majority leader, “No one can stop him,” he said.
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Cruz stated clearly that there was a deal, and that McConnell is lying.
Without stating his name specifically, Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, rebuked Cruz for accusing McConnell of lying by reading a provision from Rule 19 regarding senate decorum: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”
Hatch noted that when a senator is “called to order under this rule, that senator must take his or her seat and may not proceed without leave of the senate.”
“Regrettably, in recent times, the Senate floor has too often become a forum for partisan messaging,” Hatch said, acting in the role of President Pro Tempore of the Senate. “It has been used as a tool to advance personal ambitions, a venue to promote political campaigns, and even a vehicle to enhance fundraising efforts, all at the expense of the proper functioning of this body,” he said.
“Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated in other venues — or perhaps on the campaign trail — but they have no place among colleagues in the United States Senate,” warned Hatch.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, McConnell’s second in command, piled on, stating that if the majority leader had made such an statement, “I suspect you would find other voices joining that of the junior senator [Cruz].”
“I think it was outside the realm of Senate behavior,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said regarding Cruz’s remarks. “I would never contemplate going to the floor of the Senate and impugning the integrity of another senator. Just not something we do here. I really think it was a very wrong thing to do,” he said.
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McConnell defended his actions from the Senate floor on Sunday: “I’ve said repeatedly and publicly for months that the Ex-Im supporters from both parties should be allowed a vote. I also said publicly that the highway bill would be an obvious place to have that vote.”
“When there is overwhelming bipartisan support for an idea, even if I oppose it, it doesn’t require some ‘special deal’ to see a vote occur on the measure. This is the United States Senate, after all, where we debate and vote on all kinds of different issues,” he added.
Cruz did not back down from his Friday remarks, telling reporters after Sunday’s vote: “I do not believe speaking the truth is anything other than in the very best tradition of the United States Senate.”
He said that McConnell took “extraordinary steps designed to force a vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and they were directly contrary to the promises the Majority Leader made to 53 Republicans and to the press.” Cruz added: “My saying so is uncomfortable but it is a simple fact entirely consistent with decorum and no member of this body has disputed that promise was made and that promise was broken.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund–founded by former South Carolina Senator (now president of the Heritage Foundation) Jim DeMint —tweeted its support for Ted Cruz’s account of events.
As reported by Western Journalism earlier this month, the Texas senator was asked at an event by a reporter whether he thought the GOP leadership was corrupt. The senator answered by offering the example of the 2013 debt ceiling debate.
After legislation passed the House raising the debt ceiling, primarily with the help of Democrats, the measure came to the Senate. The leadership called all the GOP senators into a meeting and asked them to agree, with a unanimous consent floor vote, to allow the debt ceiling increase to go forward by a simple majority, rather than the usual 60 vote requirement. The leadership said that that way, the Democrats could pass it by themselves (they had 55 senators at the time), and all the Republicans could vote against it and go tell their constituents how they stood up against big spending.
Cruz indicated he could not in good faith do what they were asking. He said only Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, stood with him and filibustered raising the debt ceiling without spending reforms.
GOP leadership pressed Cruz why he was going to make five Republican senators have to vote with the Democrats to pass the legislation. Cruz saw the incident as emblematic of leadership that had forgotten why they were sent to Washington.
h/t: Bizpac Review
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