Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas wasted no time after the Senate opened its session on Monday, quickly challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's efforts to consider the government-funding resolution passed by the House. But Reid was prepared, calling Republicans and Tea Party members "extreme," "anarchists," and living in a "partisan bubble."
Cruz's plan is as simple as it is unlikely: block the Senate from doing anything that isn't what he wants, using a filibuster. What he wants is for the body to approve the House's version of the funding bill, which eliminates any money for implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The first shots were fired on Monday. Within minutes of the session beginning, Reid asked for consent on a plan related to a separate issue, the confirmation of judicial candidates. When he did so, Cruz interjected, refusing to grant the consent unanimously. And then Reid went off, in his way.
We have bolded Reid's many insults:
Mr. President, inside the House Republican bubble, the crowd cheered a plan to deny health insurance to tens of millions of Americans.
Outside the House Republican bubble, reaction was altogether different. The radical Tea Party plan to shut down the government — unless Democrats are ready to deny funding to Obamacare, passed by the House of Representatives on Friday — has been called the dumbest idea ever by one Republican senator. It has been called a "box canyon," a "morass" from which the "Republicans will not escape unscathed," by a second Republican senator. It has been called "dishonest" by one Republican senator, and a "suicide note" by another Republican senator.
So, Mr. President, the reviews are in and they're universal. The ransom demanded by Republicans is unworkable and unrealistic. President Obama has been clear, and I've been clear. Any bill that defunds [Obamacare] is dead on arrival in the Senate. The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for four years now. Democrats are willing to work with reasonable Republicans to improve this law, but we will now understand that there is an anarchy movement that's afoot. …
We're not going to bow to Tea Party anarchists who deny the mere fact that Obamacare is the law. We will not bow to Tea Party anarchists who refuse to accept that the Supreme court Ruled that Obamacare is constitutional. And we will not bow to Tea Party anarchists in the House or in the Senate who ignore the fact that president Obama was overwhelmingly reelected a few months ago.
Reid went on to note polling suggesting that the public agreed with those Republicans that criticized Cruz's effort, then saying that no such defunding will take place as long as Obama is president and he is Majority Leader.
Cruz seemed unbowed. This is going to be a long week.