There is nothing new about sharp debate on the House and Senate floor. Usually though, it is between members of different parties. But on Thursday afternoon, the divisions among Republicans were showcased for all to see in an internal battle over a plan to fund the government.
Reporters have been told all week about tough exchanges behind closed doors this week among Republicans, aimed mainly at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) – but on the floor Thursday afternoon, Cruz and Lee suddenly were facing off with one of their own, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
Corker is one of a number of GOP Senators who have made no bones about their differences with Cruz this week, as the Young Turks have taken on the GOP Old Guard.
Corker began by tweaking Cruz for engaging in an over 21 hour filibuster and then voting to bring up the bill that he was arguing against.
The exchange came after Cruz and Lee objected to a request by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to move up the final votes on a stop gap budget bill to Thursday evening.
It has been no secret within Senate GOP circles that Cruz and Lee have angered their more senior colleagues, who have been deluged with phone calls asking them to block a stop gap funding bill.
Supporters of that tactic argue that if the government shuts down next week, it would be Democrats who are at fault, not Republicans.
But instead of a debate focused on the differences between the two parties, this week has again been highlighted by differences among Republicans, both in the House and Senate, as Cruz and other new lawmakers aggressively challenge their party’s elders.
We’ll see how many votes Cruz and Lee are able to get of the 46 Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Friday’s cloture vote.
One Senator suggested to me it might be less than half of their fellow GOP Senators.