Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that intelligence community leaders' testimony about the impact of the government shutdown was "deeply disturbing," accusing Obama of "playing politics" with national security.
"The person who should be most out front correcting this is our commander in chief, and I don't believe President Obama should be playing politics with this," Cruz said at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the National Security Agency's intelligence collection. "He should be stepping forward to correct this problem right now."
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had said earlier in the Wednesday hearing that the shutdown has forced intelligence agencies to furlough 70 percent of their civilian employees. Clapper estimated there was 75 percent more risk from imminent threats to the country Wednesday than the day prior because of the shutdown, and noted that he had told Obama about the shutdown's deep impact on intelligence agencies.
But many observers, including Republican Rep. Peter King (N.Y.), have pointed out that Cruz supported the strategy of tying government appropriations to defunding the Affordable Care Act, leading to the very shutdown he has been decrying.
Cruz said the House and Senate should fix the problem by passing piecemeal legislation to fund the military and intelligence agencies like the NSA -- an approach the White House has rejected.
"If God forbid we see an attack on the United States because the intelligence community was not adequately funded, every member of this committee would be horrified," Cruz said. "I hope that issues of partisan politics can be set aside and we can all come together."
Gen. Keith Alexander, who heads the NSA, said the shutdown "has had a huge impact on morale."