Senate Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday to begin debate on a government spending bill that defunds Obamacare.
In the normal universe of a week ago, it makes perfect sense. But in Ted Cruz’s new alternate universe, it threw conservative constituents for a total loop.
Hadn’t the Texas Republican been begging his colleagues to vote against such a procedural move? Wasn’t this the moment to stand up to and fight, not to appease like Neville Chamberlain?
It fell to beleaguered congressional staffers to try to explain the procedural morass to confused constituents.
Here’s a tweet from Antonia Ferrier, communications director for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT):
Callers into our office very confused after that 100-0 cloture vote
— Antonia Ferrier (@ahrferrier) September 25, 2013
Two other Senate Republican offices confirmed to TPM that they had been fielding calls from confused constituents. National Review Online’s Robert Costa reported that a harsh response from the base had reduced administrative assistants in two Senate GOP offices to tears.
Back at the Capitol. Anger among Repub sens vs Cruz is simmering. One source says admn assts in 2 offices have cried due to neg Right calls
— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) September 25, 2013
One Senate GOP aide told TPM that the reaction was split between anger and mere confusion. “Bit of both,” the aide said.
It’s easy to see where the confusion came from. The unanimous vote came roughly 60 minutes after Cruz had held the Senate floor for 21 hours, decrying Obamacare and urging his party to support a procedural move to block Senate Democrats from restoring funding for the law.
But Wednesday’s vote was on the motion to begin debating the spending bill. There will be another vote to close debate on the bill in the coming days. That’s the one that Cruz said he wants Senate Republicans to oppose unless they get their way on defunding Obamacare.
That’s why Cruz, Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and others voted in favor of Wednesday’s motion. But it seems that the procedural machinations weren’t clear to some of their constituents.
As another Senate Republican aide told TPM earlier this week: “Rule No. 1 in communications is if you are explaining, you are losing.”