Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet railed against Sen. Ted Cruz in a lengthy tirade on the Senate floor Thursday, accusing him of shedding “crocodile tears” over Coast Guard members not being paid during the government shutdown.
Bennet, normally a reserved and low-key senator, shouted repeatedly as he attacked Cruz over the ongoing shutdown, criticizing the Texas Republican for his central role in forcing the government to shut down in 2013 over Obamacare.
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“When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded,” Bennet, who represents Colorado and whose name has surfaced as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, shouted. “People were killed. People’s houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were ruined forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down for politics that he surfed to a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.”
Bennet’s tirade came after Cruz and several other Republicans attempted to pass legislation to pay members of the Coast Guard who have not been compensated during the ongoing government shutdown. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blocked the effort, calling instead for Republicans to vote to open the entire government. Cruz attacked Schumer, saying Democrats are holding members of the Coast Guard “hostage.”
Bennet also attacked President Donald Trump, calling it “ludicrous” that the government remains “shut down over a promise the president of the United States couldn’t keep and that America is not interested in having them keep.” He was alluding to the president’s campaign vow that Mexico would pay for the wall.
“This idea that Democrats are for open borders is gibberish,” Bennet shouted. He also attacked the House Freedom Caucus and the so-called Hastert Rule in the House requiring a majority of the majority to move legislation, saying a “minority of tyrants” had held Congress hostage.
Cruz fired back after Bennet wrapped up his speech, saying those without facts or law on their side of an argument “bang the table.”
“We’ve seen a whole lot of table banging right here on this floor. The senator from Colorado spent a great deal of time yelling, spent a great deal of time attacking me personally,” Cruz said. He added that he did not think he had ever yelled at a colleague on the floor, though he once did accuse Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying on the Senate floor.
“It takes some degree of chutzpah to stand up after filibustering funding for the government, as the Democrats did, and to blame the shutdown on the opposing party,” Cruz said, repeatedly defending Trump’s push for a border wall.