Ted Cruz’s immigration gambit was thumped by the Senate. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 11:05 p.m. | Ted Cruz’s proxy vote against President Barack Obama’s executive action ended in an overwhelming defeat Saturday night, splitting the GOP in half.
Not that Cruz didn’t try.
“It allows Republicans to also show they are committed to ending Obama’s amnesty once and for all in the next Congress. If we agree it is indeed unconstitutional, we have no business funding it when the GOP controls Congress,” the Texas Republican said in a statement ahead of that vote. “The Constitution matters, and we must defend it. That is why we have fought so hard to ensure this vote.”
Cruz’s point of order failed 22-74, with about 20 Republicans joining with the Democrats to oppose it, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Cruz’s fellow Texan, Republican Whip John Cornyn.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ripped Cruz’s maneuver as “irresponsible” in a statement late Saturday:
“While the president’s executive actions on immigration are reprehensible and deserve a strong response, I value the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution too much to exploit it for political expediency,” said Corker. “The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund the government so to assert that the House-passed spending bill is unconstitutional is not only inaccurate but irresponsible.”
Cruz’s vote was a rather blunt instrument, since he raised a Constitutional point of order against the entirety of the section of the catch-all “cromnibus” spending bill providing continuing appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security. Putting the question directly to the chamber was in keeping with longstanding Senate practice.
“The junior senator from Texas is wrong, wrong, wrong on several counts,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor, saying the objection on Constitutional grounds had no basis, pointing out that the House had already passed the entirety of the spending bill. The other 11 regular appropriation bills (aside from Homeland Security) are funded through the end of fiscal 2015.
When Cruz sought to raise the same point-of-order on Friday, the parliamentary timing was not yet correct, and Cruz told CQ Roll Call that he would return, likely in the wee hours of Sunday morning. In fact, an agreement reached to expedite the processing of the Senate’s business put that vote Saturday night, just ahead of a vote to clear the spending bill for President Barack Obama. The vote on Cruz’s point-of-order came just after the Senate agreed, 77-19, to limit debate on the underlying legislation.
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid, said Cruz’s gambit helped Democrats confirm more nominees.
“Senator Cruz’s stunt got two fewer votes than the twenty-four Obama nominees he helped Senate Democrats advance tonight,” he said in an email.
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