Senate Democrats got an early Christmas present from some Senate Republicans; namely, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT). These two obstructionists tried to force a vote on defunding President Obama’s immigration executive order before voting on the House’s huge spending bill. That derailed an agreement between outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to allow the Senate to leave town over the weekend and vote on the spending bill on Monday.
Why was that an early Christmas present, instead of more of the hassle and headache we’ve come to expect from the likes of Sens. Cruz and Lee? Because, according to MSNBC’s Steve Benen, trying to force that vote and scuttling that agreement meant the Senate had to stay in session to vote on that massive spending bill over the weekend. That, in turn, derailed Reid’s entire schedule, which moved everything up, including votes on several confirmations.
Reid’s deal with McConnell required a unanimous vote. According to MSNBC, the Senate would leave for the weekend, and come back on Monday to vote on the spending bill, and then Reid would start the clock on confirming Obama’s nominees. That would give them less time to do that. While some nominees would probably get confirmed, others would run out of time and have to wait until next year. This is what Republicans wanted, because with their majority, they could give lots of nominees a much harder time than the Democrats would.
But, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Thanks to Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, they didn’t get what they thought was already a done deal. Instead, the Senate voted on the spending bill on Saturday, and then Reid started the clock on the procedural votes needed to advance Obama’s nominees, giving Democrats considerably more time for that than they thought they’d have.
MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin reports that many Senate Republicans were angry with Cruz and Lee for that stunt. They don’t know what those two were up to, they don’t know what the end goal was, and it destroyed their end goals instead, all the while giving Democrats more time to get stuff done before this session officially ends for the year.
The Democratic Policy & Communications Center compiled a list of quotes from unhappy Republicans. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said:
“I fail to see what conservative ends were achieved.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said:
“I’m going to have to figure out the strategy before I can tell you how effective it is.”
Presumably, he was referring to having to figure out just what Cruz and Lee thought they were doing before he could gauge how effective (or ineffective) it was.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said:
“This is not an effective strategy.. You should have a goal in sight rather than just irritating a lot of people.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said:
“This (Cruz) strategy reminds me very much of the shutdown last year where the strategy made absolutely no sense.”
In short, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee royally screwed up, and their colleagues are royally pissed off. But Democrats are happy; this appears to be less of a lame-duck session than everyone thought it would be.