Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday staunchly defended his decision to force a procedural vote in opposition to President Obama’s immigration action, a move that ultimately proved a political boon to Democrats. Cruz said that Republican leaders needed to "honor their word" and block the immigration initiative.
"The answer is always tomorrow," Cruz said on The Sean Hannity radio show, in reference to efforts to roll back the immigration action. "At some point, what the heck are we doing? Either stand up and demonstrate the principles we keep promising voters we believe or pack it up already."
"They use the term selfish to actually honor the commitments made to your constituents. That's not playing the rules of the game," Cruz added. "Well you know what? The rules of the game have resulted in bankrupting our kids and grandkids, and seeing our constitutional liberties eroded, and enough is enough."
Seen as a Tea Party favorite and possible 2016 candidate, Cruz was ripped by his fellow GOP colleagues because the move allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) additional time to confirm some of President Obama's most contested nominees.
"You should have an end goal in sight if you're going to do these types of things, and I don't see an end goal other than irritating a lot of people," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.
“I think most Republicans think that Christmas came early for Democrats,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Roll Call. “I haven’t seen Harry smile this much in years, and I didn’t particularly like it."
But in his Monday interview, Cruz brushed off the criticism and argued that the Senate should have a say on the matter.
“They were angry because they did not want to fight this fight now and [Utah Republican Sen.] Mike Lee and I thought it was important to get a vote now to get the Democrats on record," Cruz said of his Republican colleagues. "And we hoped to get every Republican on record against executive amnesty. But leadership was angry, and so they aggressively whipped against a vote, saying that amnesty was unconstitutional."
Only 22 Republicans voted with Cruz’s point of order, which challenged the constitutionality of Obama’s immigration action. Had he succeeded in convincing a majority of senators, the entire government spending bill would have gone back to the House, setting up another showdown over long-term funding. But Cruz was optimistic that come January, more Republicans would stand with him.
"I am hopeful and I'm taking them at their word that they were jumping ship because of concerns on the procedural tool. But come January, come February, they have committed up and down that they're going to be here to stop amnesty. And at the end of the day it's not what we say, but what we do," Cruz said.
In the meantime, Democrats and liberal groups poked fun at Cruz on Twitter thanking him for their victory.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 13, 2014
There's a first time for everything, but public health advocates can thank Ted Cruz tonight for his help in getting Vivek Murthy confirmed
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) December 15, 2014
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) December 15, 2014