Ted Cruz's debt ceiling filibuster puts heat on Cornyn, other GOP senators
Todd J. Gillmantgillman@dallasnews.com
Updated: 12 February 2014 11:44 PM
WASHINGTON — Anyone who thought last year’s government shutdown left Sen. Ted Cruz chastened, mellower or more of a team player got a harsh dose of reality Wednesday.
The tea partier from Texas made a lot of enemies in the Senate — on his own side — by forcing an uncomfortable and avoidable vote on increasing the federal government’s debt limit.
His filibuster put party leaders in a bind, not least among them fellow Texan Sen. John Cornyn. With 60 votes needed to ensure the measure passed and a catastrophic default was avoided, a few Republicans had to join with Democrats.
Then, Cruz piled on everyone who dared to cross him, denouncing “establishment politicians from both parties” and warning darkly of political consequences.
“Sometimes, come November, the people remember,” he said.
The term “quixotic” isn’t in Cruz’s lexicon, and he’s clearly not angling for “Most Popular” in the nation’s most exclusive club.
One could argue, as Cruz has, that the shutdown paid dividends for Republicans by shining a harsh spotlight on Obamacare’s rough edges.
It was hard to see any such upside in Wednesday’s events, other than for Cruz and fellow tea partiers.
The Senate would have raised the debt limit exclusively with Democratic votes, a political point Republicans could have exploited. In the end, in fact, that’s what happened, but only after the filibuster was quashed.
Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were determined not to let the GOP suffer the blame for roiling the world’s economy. Both voted with Democrats, even though both have primary challengers as they seek re-election.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Clear Lake, accused Cornyn of using Cruz’s back as “his own personal cutlery holder.”
That stings, but so does casting a damaging vote on a lost cause.