June 18, 2021

The Republican Leadership Must Keep their Promises to the American People

Ted-Cruz 5“Mr. President, there is a reason the American people are fed up with Washington. There is a reason the American people are frustrated. The frustration is not simply mild or passing or ephemeral. It is volcanic. Over and over again, the American people go to the ballot box, over and over again, the American people rise up and say the direction we’re going doesn’t make sense. We want change. Over and over again, the American people win elections. In 2010, a tidal wave election. In 2014, a tidal wave election. And yet, nothing changes in Washington.

“Mr. President, I’d like to share with you and the American people the real story of what is happening in Washington. Why is it that our leaders cannot stop bankrupting this country, cannot stop the assault on our constitutional rights, cannot stop America’s retreat from leadership in the world? It’s a very simple dynamic when you have two sides allegedly in a political battle. One side that is relentlessly, unshakably committed to its principles, and the other side that reflexively surrenders at the outset. The outcome is foreordained.

“I will give President Obama and the Senate Democrats credit. They believe in principles of big government. They believe in this relentless assault on our constitutional rights, and they are willing to crawl over broken glass with a knife between their teeth to fight for those principles. Unfortunately, leadership on my side of the aisle does not demonstrate the same commitment to principles. Now, how is it you might wonder that a preemptive surrender is put in place? Well, it all begins with the relatively innocuous statement there shall be no shutdowns. That is a statement leadership in both houses, Republican leadership in both houses has said: ‘We’re not going to shut the government down.’ You could understand the folks in the private sector, folks at home — that sounds perfectly reasonable. Except here’s the reality in Washington.

How the Republican Leadership tries to fool the American people

“In today’s Washington, there are three kinds of votes. There are, number one, show votes, show votes, show votes. Votes that are brought up largely to placate the voters where the outcome is foreordained, where most Republicans will vote one way, Democrats will vote the other, Republicans will lose, and the conservatives who elected Republican majorities in both houses are supposed to be thrilled that they have been patted on the head and given their show vote that was destined to lose. We had a vote like that in recent weeks on Planned Parenthood. Leadership told us: ‘You should be thrilled. We voted on it. What else do you want?’ We voted on it in a context where it would never happen. And indeed it didn’t.

“The second kind of vote are votes that simply grow government, that dramatically expend spending, expand corporate welfare, and those votes, Mr. President, those votes passed. Because you get a bipartisan coalition of Republican leadership and Democrat, both of whom are convinced that career politicians will get reelected if they keep growing and growing government, and in particular, handing out corporate welfare to giant corporations. Oh, boy, if you have got the lobbyists on K street pushing for something, you can get 60, 70, 80 votes in this chamber because Republican leadership loves it, and Democrats are always willing to grow government.

“And then there’s a third kind of vote. Votes on must-pass legislation. In an era when one side, the Democratic Party, is adamantly committed to continuing down this path that is causing so many millions of Americans to hurt, must-pass votes are the only votes that have real consequence in this chamber. They typically fall into one of three categories — either continuing resolution or an omnibus appropriation bill or a debt ceiling increase. Each of those three are deemed must-pass votes, and if you actually want to change law, those are the only hopes of doing so. But I mentioned before you have got one side that has preemptively surrendered. Republican leadership has said: ‘We will never, ever, ever shut down the government.’ And suddenly, President Obama understands the easy key to winning every battle. He simply has to utter the word ‘shutdown,’ and Republican leadership runs to the hills.

Republican Leadership refuses to defund the anti-gun ObamaCare law

“So President Obama demands of Congress fund every bit of Obamacare, 100 percent of it, and do nothing, zero, for the millions of Americans who are hurting, millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, who have lost their health care, who have lost their doctors, who have been worsted into part-time work, millions of young people who have seen their premiums skyrocket. President Obama says you can do nothing for the people that are hurting. Senate Democrats say: ‘We don’t care about the people who are hurting. We’ll do nothing for them.’ And here’s the kicker. President Obama promises ‘if you try to do anything on Obamacare, I, Barack Obama, will veto funding for the entire federal government and shut it down,’ and Republican leadership compliantly says, ‘Okay, fine, we’ll fund Obamacare.’

“President Obama then — understanding he’s got a pretty good trump card here he can pull out any time — next he says, ‘Okay, Republicans, fund my unconstitutional executive amnesty. It’s contrary to law. It’s flouting federal immigration law. But you, Republicans, fund it anyway, or else I, Barack Obama, will veto funding for the entire federal government and shut it down,’ and Republican leadership says at the outset, ‘Okay, we’ll fund amnesty.’

“And now you turn to Planned Parenthood. Barack Obama, this will surprise no one, says, ‘Fund 100 percent of Planned Parenthood with taxpayer money.’ Mind you, Planned Parenthood is a private organization. It’s not even part of the government, but it happens to be politically favored by President Obama and the Democrats. Planned Parenthood is also the subject of multiple criminal investigations for being caught on tape apparently carrying out a pattern of ongoing felonies. In ordinary times, the proposition that we should not be sending your and my father’s taxpayer money to fund a private organization under multiple criminal investigations, that ought to be a 100-0 vote. But I mentioned before Barack Obama is absolutely committed to his partisan objectives. He is like The Terminator. He never stops. He never gives up. He moves forward and forward and forward. So what does he say? ‘If you don’t fund this one private organization that’s not part of the government, that’s under multiple criminal investigations, I, Barack Obama, will veto funding for the entire federal government and shut it down.’ And what does Republican leadership say? Well, it will surprise no one. Republican leadership says, ‘We surrender. We will fund Planned Parenthood.’

“You know, President Obama has negotiated a catastrophic nuclear deal with Iran. Republican leadership goes on television all the time and rightly says this is a catastrophic deal. The consequences are that it’s the single greatest national security threat to America. Millions of Americans could die. Mr. President, I would suggest if we actually believed the words that are coming out of our mouths, then we would be willing to use any and all constitutional authorities given to Congress to stop a catastrophic deal that sends over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei. But yet, President Obama says he will veto the entire budget if we do, and to the surprise of nobody, Republican leadership surrenders.

Preemptive Surrender

“You know, I will draw an analogy, Mr. President. It’s as if in a football game at the beginning of the football game the two team captains go out to flip the coin and one team’s coach walks out and says we forfeit, and they do it game after game after game. Right at the coin flip, leadership says: ‘We forfeit, we surrender, we, Republicans, will fund every single big-government liberal priority of the Democrats.’ Now, if a team did that, if an NFL team did that over 16 games, we know what their record would be. It would be 0-16. And, you know, I would be pretty sure that the fans who bought tickets, who went to the game, would be pretty ticked off as they watched their coach forfeit over and over and over and over again.

“You want to understand the volcanic frustration with Washington? It’s that the Republican leadership in both houses will not fight for a single priority that we promised the voters we would fight for when we were campaigning less than a year ago.

“You know, this past week was a big news week in Washington. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner announced he was going to resign. There was lots of speculation around the media as to why the speaker of the house resigned. Mr. President, I’m going to tell you why he resigned. It’s actually a direct manifestation of this disconnect between the voters back home and Republican leadership. Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell had promised there will be no shutdown, so, therefore, they will fund every single priority of Barack Obama’s. We are right now voting on what’s called a clean CR. I will note it is clean only in the parlance of Washington, because what does it do? It funds 100 percent of Obamacare, 100 percent of executive amnesty. It funds all of Planned Parenthood. It funds the Iranian nuclear deal. It is essentially a blank check to Obama Barack. That is not very clean to me. That actually sounds like a very dirty funding bill, funding priorities that are doing enormous damage.

“Now, in the Senate the votes were always there for a dirty CR, a CR that funded all of Barack Obama’s priorities. The Democrats will all vote for it. Heck, of course they will. They’ve got the other side funding their priorities. Of course every Democrat will vote for that over and over and over again and twice on Sunday. And the simple reality on the Republican side is when leadership joins with the Democrats about half of the Republican caucus is happy to move over to that side of the aisle. So the votes were always preordained.

Sen. McConnell adopts Harry Reid’s tactics

“The motion I made just a moment ago was a motion to table the tree. You remember filling the tree? It’s something we heard about a lot in the previous congress. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, did it all the time. Senators on this side of the aisle stood up over and over again and said it’s an abuse of process. In fact, we even campaigned our leadership saying we’re going to have an open amendment process. Yet, what’s happened here is Majority Leader McConnell has taken a page out of Leader Reid’s playbook and filled the tree. I moved to table the tree. And what you then saw was leadership denying a second. And what does denying a second mean? Denying a recorded vote. Why is that important? Mr. President, when you are breaking the commitments you’ve made to the men and women who elected you, the most painful thing in the world is accountability. When you are misleading the men and women who showed up to vote for you, you don’t want sunshine making clear that you voted “No.” A recorded vote means each senator’s name is on it. Now, why did I move to table the tree? Simply to add the amendment that I had added, which would have, number one, said not one penny goes to Planned Parenthood. And, number two, not one penny goes to implementing this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal unless and until they comply with federal law, the Administration complies with federal law and hands over the full deal including the side agreements with Iran. What you saw was Republican leadership desperately does not want a vote on that.

“Well, Mr. President, I intend tomorrow to make that motion again. And when I make that motion again, I would encourage those watching to see which senators are here to give a second or not and to vote yea or nay. I would note, by the way, when you deny a second, which is truly an unprecedented procedural trick. It used to be that was a courtesy that was afforded to all senators, indeed in the opposing party routinely over and over again when someone asked for a second everyone raises their hand but leadership discovered we can do this in the dark of night. But I encourage those watching to see, number one, when this motion is offered again, who shows up to offer a second and who either doesn’t raise his hand or just doesn’t come to the floor. One of the ways you avoid accountability is you somehow are somewhere else doing something really, really important instead of actually showing up to the battle that is waging right here and now.

“But I would also encourage people to watch very carefully what happens after that. After that you have a voice vote. A voice vote is still a vote. Let’s be clear, standing here on the floor, there were two senators — Senator Lee and I — who voted aye, who voted to table the tree and take up the amendment barring funding for Planned Parenthood and barring funds for this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal. The remaining senators on the Republican side — you had Leader McConnell; you had Whip Cornyn; you had Senator Alexander; you had Senator Cochran — those four senators voted loudly no. It’s still a vote, even though it’s not a recorded vote. It’s a vote on the Senate floor.

Why Speaker Boehner had to resign

“So why did Speaker Boehner resign? I mentioned to you that the votes were always cooked here. The Democrats plus Republican leadership and the votes that they bring with them ensure plenty of votes for a dirty CR, a CR that funds Obamacare, that funds amnesty, that funds Planned Parenthood, that funds this Iranian nuclear deal. But the House was always the bulwark.

“Mr. President, you’ll remember in 2013 when we had a fight over Obamacare — you were serving in the House at that time. In that fight, we never had the votes in the Senate. Actually, the Senate was under control of the Democrats. They were going to do anything they could to fund Obamacare, regardless of the millions of people hurting, but the House was bulwark in that house.  In particular, there was a core of 40 or 50 strong, principled conservatives who cared deeply about honoring the commitments they made to the men and women who elected them. That was always the strength we had in that fight.

“It’s been interesting reading some of the press coverage speculating that there would be some magic parliamentary trick that would somehow stop this corrupt deal. In the Senate there are no magic parliamentary tricks. When you have the Democrats plus Republican leadership and a chunk of the Republicans, those votes can roll over any parliamentary trick you might use. Even with the blood moon we just had, there are no mystical powers that allow you to roll over that.

“But in the House, we’ve still got that 30, 40, 50 strong conservatives, so how is it that Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell could promise there will never, ever be a shutdown? Because, I believe, Speaker Boehner has decided to cut a deal with Leader Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats, that this dirty CR that’s going to be passed out of the Senate is going to go to the House, and the speaker is going to take it up on the floor, pass it with all the Democrats, just like Leader McConnell just did, and a handful of Republicans who will go with Republican leadership. A very significant percentage of Republicans will vote “No.” But here is the problem. Speaker Boehner’s done that more than once, and in this instance there were too many Republicans who were tired of seeing their leadership lead the Democrats, rather than lead the Republican party. I believe if speaker Boehner had done that, had passed a dirty CR funding Planned Parenthood, funding this Iranian nuclear deal, that he would have lost his speakership. A member of the House had introduced a motion to vacate the chair because House Republicans were fed up with their leader not leading, at least not leading their party, leading the Democratic Party. So, Speak Boehner faced a conundrum. If he does what he and Leader McConnell promised, which is fund all of Barack Obama’s priorities, he would have lost his job. So what did he do? He announced he’s resigning as speaker and resigning as a member of congress. That is unsurprising, but it also telegraphs the deal he’s just cut. It’s a deal to surrender and join with the Democrats. Notice he said he’s going to stay a month. He’s going to stay a month in order to join with the Democrats and fund Barack Obama’s priorities….

“Now, the response, Mr. President, from our leadership is we can’t win this fight. That’s their response. They say, well, we can’t win the Planned Parenthood fight. Why? Because we don’t have 60 votes. Because we don’t have 67 votes. Mr. President, if that’s the standard, then Republican leadership’s standard is: We will only do whatever Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi approve of. That’s what it means. You want to understand why the American people are frustrated? We were told, ‘If only we had a Republican House of Representatives, then things would be different.’ 2010, millions of us rose up in incredible numbers and won an historic tidal wave election. Mr. President, you were a youth minister, called to ministry. And yet you stood up and said, my country’s in crisis. I’m going to stand and serve. The 2010 election was historic. And yet very little changed.

Lying to the American people

“Then we were told, ‘Okay, we’ve got a House of Representatives, but the problem is the Senate. As long as Harry Reid is majority leader, we can’t do anything.’ Over and over again, Washington gray beards would go on television and in gravelly tones, they would go on TV and say, ‘You cannot govern with one-half of one-third of government. The House of Representatives is not enough. But if we had the Senate, then things would be different. The problem is Harry Reid.’

“Mr. President, you’ll recall during the fight over Obamacare, a number of members of this body, Republicans, said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, we can’t fight on Obamacare. We have to wait until we have a Republican Senate to fight.’ So the American people obliged. In 2014, millions of us rose up — the second tidal wave election in a period of four years. We won nine Senate seats. We retired Harry Reid as majority leader. We won the largest majority in the House of Representatives since the 1920’s. It’s been now over nine months since we’ve had Republican majorities in both houses, and I ask you, Mr. President, what exactly have those Republican majorities accomplished?

“I’ll tell you, Mr. President, I’ve asked that question all over the country in town halls. I’ve never been in a town hall where the response spontaneously was not ‘Absolutely nothing.’ It’s true in every state I’ve visited. And, sadly, my response over and over again is, you know, it’s worse than that. I wish the answer were ‘Absolutely nothing.’ It would have been better if the Republican majorities had done absolutely nothing. Because what, in fact, have they done? Well, the very first thing that happened right after that election in November is we came back to Washington and Republican leadership joined up with Harry Reid and the Democrats and passed a trillion-dollar cromnibus bill that was filled with pork and corporate welfare, grew government, grew the debt. Then, Republican leadership took the lead in funding Obamacare. Then, Republican leadership took the lead in funding executive amnesty. Then, Republican leadership took the lead in funding Planned Parenthood. And then, astonishingly, Republican leadership took the lead in confirming Loretta Lynch as attorney general. Now, I ask you, Mr. President, which one of those decisions is one iota different from what would have happened with Harry Reid and the Democrats in charge of this chamber? Those decisions are identical.

“And I would note, by the way, with Loretta Lynch, the Republican majority could have defeated that nomination. The Senate majority leader could have done so. And yet, she looked at the Senate Judiciary Committee, she looked at the Senate, when asked how she would differ from Eric Holder’s Justice Department, the most lawless and partisan Justice Department we’d ever seen, she said, ‘No way whatsoever.’ When asked to point to a single instance in which she’d be willing to stand up to President Obama to stop his lawlessness, to stop his abuse of power, she could not identify any circumstance in which she would ever stand up to the president who appointed her. Attorneys general from both parties have done that for centuries. Now, with Eric Holder, the Senate could be forgiven because his lawlessness manifested primarily after he was confirmed. With Loretta Lynch, she told us beforehand. She looked us in the eyes and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to do exactly what my predecessor has done.’ And Republican leadership confirmed her anyway. Is it any wonder the American people are frustrated out of their minds? We keep winning elections and the people we put in office don’t do what they said they would do.

Incompetent or Unwilling?

“Now, some people across the country ask me, is Republican leadership just not very capable? Are they not that competent or are they unwilling to fight? And, Mr. President, it’s neither. They’re actually quite competent, and they’re willing to fight. The question is what they’re fighting for. There’s a disconnect right now. If you or I go to our home states, we go to any gathering of citizens, we put up a whiteboard and we ask the citizens in the room, give me the top priorities you think Republican majorities in Congress should be focusing on – we wrote 20 priorities that came from the citizens of Oklahoma or the citizens of Texas or, for that matter, the citizens of any of the 50 states — those top 20 priorities, at least 18 of them would appear nowhere on leadership’s priority list. On the other hand, if you drive just down the street in Washington to K Street — K Street is the street in Washington where the lobbyists primarily reside, where their offices are.  If you get a gathering of corporate lobbyists that represent giant corporations and you ask them their top priorities, the list that comes out will not just bear passing similarity, it will be identical to the priorities of Republican leadership. That’s the disconnect. You know why we’re not here fighting on this? Because not giving taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood is not among the priorities of the lobbyists on K Street, so leadership is not interested in doing it. That’s the disconnect.

“Leadership does know how to fight. Just a couple of months ago dealing with the Export-Import Bank, we saw leadership in both chambers go to extraordinary lengths, Herculean procedural steps to try to reauthorize a classic example of corporate welfare, hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer-guaranteed loans to giant corporations. Now, for that leadership is incentivized because those corporations hire lobbyists, and those lobbyists distribute checks typically by the wheelbarrow. And there is no incentive greater in this body than getting reelected. And the view of leadership is: You get reelected by raking in the cash. How do you think we’ve gotten an $18 trillion national debt? Because the way you reach bipartisan compromise in this body today, in the broken world of Washington, is you grow and grow and grow government. You sit around in a room, you say, ‘I’ll spend for your priority, your priority, your priority, your priority, another trillion dollars and we’re done.’

“The only people that lose are your children and mine. The only people that lose are the next generations who find themselves mired deeper and deeper and deeper in debt. I think of my little girls, Caroline and Catherine. They’re seven and four. If we don’t stop what we’re doing, your children and my children will face a debt so crushing they won’t be able to spend in the future, for the priorities of the future, for their needs, for their wants, for whatever crises come up that the next generation confronts. They’ll spend their whole lives simply working to pay off the debts racked up by their deadbeat parents and grandparents. No generation in history has ever done this to their children or grandchildren. Our parents didn’t do it to us. Their parents didn’t do it to them. The reason is the corruption of this town. And it boils down to a simple proposition: The Democrats are willing to do anything to push their priorities. And the Republicans, the leadership is not listening to the men and women who elected us.

“But it’s actually an even deeper problem than that. On the Democratic side, the major donors that fund the Democratic Party, they don’t despise their base. The billionaires who write the giant checks that fund President Obama and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats on that side of the aisle, they don’t despise the radical gay rights movement or the radical environmentalist movement or all of the people that knock on doors and get Democrats elected. The simple reality is a very large percentage of the Republican donors actively despise our base, actively despise the men and women who showed up and voted you and me into office. I can tell you when you sit down and talk with a New York billionaire Republican donor — and I have talked with quite a few New York billionaire Republican donors, California Republican donors, their questions start out as follows. First of all, you’ve got to come out for gay marriage, you need to be pro-choice, and you need to support amnesty. That’s where the Republican donors are. You wonder why Republicans won’t fight on any of these issues? Because the people writing the checks agree with the Democrats.

“Now, mind you, the people who show up at the polls, who elected you and me, and who elected this Republican majority, far too many of the Republican donors look down on those voters as a bunch of ignorant hicks and rubes. That’s why leadership likes show votes. It wasn’t too long ago when the Washington Cartel was able to mask it all with a show vote or two, and they’d tell the rubes back home, ‘See, we voted on it, we just don’t have the votes.’

“You know, when I was first elected to this body, many times I heard more senior senators saying some variation of the following: ‘Now, Ted, that’s what you tell folks back home. You don’t actually do it.’ Here’s what’s changed. The voters have gotten more informed. They now understand the difference between show votes and a real vote. They understand the vote we had a week ago on Planned Parenthood was designed to lose, to placate those silly folks that think we shouldn’t be sending taxpayer funds to a criminal organization that is selling the body parts of unborn children. But on the actual vote that could change policy, leadership has no interest in fighting whatsoever. You know, in the past couple of weeks, one of my colleagues sent me a letter that really embodied the leadership message. This letter said, ‘Explain to me how you get 67 votes to defund Planned Parenthood. If you can’t produce 67 votes, I won’t support it.’ Mr. President, if that is our standard, then we should all be honest with the men and women who elected us. We do not have 67 Republican votes in this chamber, and there is no realistic prospect of our getting 67 votes any time in the foreseeable future. If the standard is unless you get 67 votes, Republican leadership will support no policy issue, then each of us when we run should tell the voters, ‘If you vote for me, I will support whatever policy agenda Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi decide because that’s my standard if I don’t have 67 votes.’ Do you ever recall Harry Reid and the Democrats saying how could we get Republican votes? No. Their side is absolutely committed to their principles. You don’t see them holding back at all. If the standard is how do we get 67 votes, name one thing that leadership will fight for. Well, the answer, I mentioned there are three types of votes. They will fight for big government. They will fight to grow government. They will fight to expand corporate welfare. Well, that can indeed get 67 votes. But I have never been to a town hall once where citizens said to me: ‘The problem is we don’t have enough corporate welfare. I need more subsidies for big business.’ If 100 percent of the agenda of Republican leadership is more subsidies for big business, what the heck are you and I doing in the Senate in the first place? That certainly wasn’t why I ran, and I know it wasn’t why you ran either. You don’t have to win every fight. You don’t have to fight every fight. But you do have to stand for something….

“Just yesterday the speaker of the house went on national television, and on national television, he directed an obscene epithet at me personally. He’s welcome to insult whomever he likes. I don’t intend to reciprocate. But when has leadership ever showed that level of venom, that level of animosity to President Obama and the Democrats who are bankrupting this country, who are destroying the Constitution, who are endangering the future of our children and grandchildren, who are retreating from leadership in the world and have created an environment that has led to the rise of radical Islamic terrorism?

“You know, one of the dynamics, Mr. President, we’ve seen in fight after fight is Harry Reid and the Democrats sit back and laugh. Why? Because it’s Republican leadership that leads the onslaught, attacking conservatives saying, ‘No, you can’t and we won’t do anything to stop Obamacare. No, you can’t and we won’t do anything to stop Planned Parenthood. No, you can’t and we won’t do anything to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.’ If Republican leadership really believes we can accomplish nothing, then why does it matter if you have a Republican House or Senate? Every two years come October, November, we tell the voters it matters intensely. To paraphrase the immortal words of Hillary Clinton, ‘what difference does it make?’ If the standard for Republican leadership is anything that gets 67 votes, we’ll support. That means Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi remain the de facto leaders in the Senate and the House.

“And I would note, by the way, if in December leadership goes through with their promise, or — not promise — but suggestion to bust the budget caps, they will have done something astonishing. Historically, the three legs of the conservative stool have been fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, national security conservatives. Between Planned Parenthood, Iran, and the budget caps, leadership will have managed to abandon all three. No wonder the American people are frustrated. No wonder the American people do not understand why leadership isn’t listening to them.

“I ask unanimous consent that my time be extended… The Democrats are objecting to my speaking further, and both the Democrats and Republican leadership are objecting to the American people speaking further. I yield the floor.”