To be clear, there has been permanent civil war between the House and Senate virtually since the founding of Congress in 1789, even and especially between leaders of the same party. House members typically refer to the Senate as the place where good bills go to die.
That’s why the singular praise for Senator Cruz among some House Republicans marks a break with tradition. But many House Republicans took strong exception to a statement issued by Cruz after Wednesday’s announcement of a showdown over Obamacare.
Cruz called the move, “terrific news.” “Just a few weeks ago, this was deemed impossible,” he said.
But instead of pledging a big fight in the Senate to validate that strategy, Cruz appeared to draw back. “Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” he said. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.
The remark set off a firestorm among GOP conservatives, many speaking anonymously.
Two-term Rep. Tim Griffin (R) of Arkansas tweeted: “So far Sen Rs are good at getting Facebook likes,and townhalls, not much else. Do something.”
Rep. Sean Duffy (R) of Wisconsin, another member of the 2010 class, shot back in a tweet: “House agrees to send #CR to Senate that defunds Obamacare. @SenTedCruz & @ SenMikeLee refuse to fight. Wave white flag and surrender.”
Asked about this statement at Thursday’s briefing, Boehner said: “I expect my Senate colleagues to do everything they can to defund this law, just like the House is going to do.”
Wednesday evening on Fox News's "Hannity," Cruz addressed the charge directly. “Mike and I will fight with every breath in our body to stop the biggest job killer in America,” Cruz said.
In a press briefing on Thursday, he also pledged to filibuster CR legislation that does not include the House defunding measure.
“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” including a filibuster, Cruz said at a press briefing on Thursday.
But it may not be enough to move the Senate, where even many Republicans doubt that using a government shutdown to leverage defunding Obamacare will work.
“I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count – the defunding box canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position,” tweeted Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee.