Rand Paul vows filibuster while Cruz and Rubio bluster against latest federal budget deal
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz also attack debt and spending extension but objections may be as much about boosting profiles in Republican campaign
Three Republican senators running for president have assailed a bipartisan budget deal to avert a government shutdown, with one of them launching an almost certainly futile attempt to block its passage.
Rand Paul vowed to filibuster the agreement, while Marco Rubio dismissed it as “severely flawed” and Ted Cruz dubbed it as “complete and utter surrender.”
“I will do everything I can to stop it, I will filibuster it, I will not let them condense the time,” Paul said on Tuesday during a campaign swing in Colorado ahead of the third Republican presidential debate on Wednesday. “I will make sure that the country is aware that really both sides appear to have given up, right and left.”
But despite Paul’s grievances there is little he or any of the other candidates can do to stop the bill in its tracks.
The deadline to raise the debt limit is not until 5 November and the House of Representatives is set to vote on the bill on Wednesday in what outgoing speaker John Boehner said would be a strong bipartisan show of support.
Under the Senate rules, if there are 60 votes in favor of advancing the bill Paul’s only option would be to eat up any debate time by speaking on the floor without pause – as he has done in high-profile fights over drone strikes and mass surveillance.
But in this case it’s unlikely he would be able to block the bill — and leadership aides said part of why they planned to move expeditiously was to avoid a scenario in which the budget debate moved into next week, when Paul or other opponents of the deal could actually risk hitting the debt ceiling.
A spokeswoman for Paul did not immediately return a request for comment when asked how, under the current rules, he planned to filibuster.
The senator did not hide his disdain for the accord, which, in addition to extending the debt limit and funding the government through 2017, raises caps on both defense and domestic spending.
“I think it’s a horrible — it’s hard for me to not use profanity in describing it,” Paul said.
Rubio criticized the “political establishment” for a lack of transparency in reaching a deal he said would “irresponsibly” raise the debt ceiling without substantive reforms.
“We need to fundamentally reform our entitlement programs for future generations and adopt major economic reforms that would boost growth and help us pay down our debt,” Rubio said in a statement announcing his opposition to the deal. “This deal does nothing that future generations of Americans will be proud of us for; instead, it postpones tough decisions until after the next election.”
Rubio’s office did not return a request for comment when asked if he would join Paul in seeking to delay the vote.
It’s unclear if the Florida senator, whose low Senate attendance has been a subject of scrutiny, will return to Washington for the vote. Rubio is currently scheduled to campaign in Iowa on Friday and Saturday.
Cruz, the conservative firebrand who played a significant part in orchestrating the government shutdown of 2013, also did not commit to trying any delaying tactics with respect to the budget agreement.
The Texas senator’s office did not have any details on how Cruz planned to approach the issue, other than to say they were waiting to see what the process would look like for considering the measure in the Senate.
Cruz unleashed sharp criticism on Republican leaders for what he said was “a slap in the face” to conservatives after the party regained control of Congress in the 2014 midterm elections.
“We now have a GOP Congress but no one watching this budget surrender would know it,” Cruz said in a statement. “Make no mistake: the Speaker’s golden parachute is a victory for the Washington Cartel, for the politically connected elite, and for big business and lobbyists who get in bed with career politicians to grow government.”
Both Cruz and Paul have raised significant money – and elevated their profiles nationally – through marathon speeches on the Senate floor.
Paul has struggled in the crowded Republican presidential field, raising just $2.5m in the last quarter. Whether another “Stand with Rand” moment will help boost his campaign remains to be seen.