A group of Tea Party and conservative activists rallied outside of Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Louisville office, calling for the defunding of the president’s health care law.
Joined by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, over a dozen demonstrators spoke in support of Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, who held a nearly 24-hour marathon talk on the Senate floor to oppose the Affordable Care Act.
But McConnell disagreed with Cruz's tactic to block a federal spending bill that takes out funding Obamacare in order to keep Senate Democrats from amending the measure.
Instead, McConnell supports having a majority vote to defund the health care law while pressuring Democrats to join the GOP caucus.
Saying the GOP establishment needs to do more those rallying in downtown Louisville took McConnell's leadership to task, however.
“I can’t understand why Mitch McConnell won’t wake up and realize that (Obama) is trying to destroy us and destroy Kentucky. He’s the mouthpiece that not only we have but he represents the Republican Party in all of the United States right now,” says Dan Johnson, a bishop at Heart of Fire Church in Louisville. “And if he don’t get off of his butt and get up and do what’s right, if he has any heart for the American people he will not fund Obamcare. It's time to defund Obamacare, it's time America is heard and this needs to end today.”
The tactical disagreement in the GOP has been a divisive fight that was brought more to the surface by Cruz, who implicitly criticized leaders in both parties for not heeding the public's apprehensions about the health care law.
McConnell is maintaining Republican senators are united against funding the health care law, and would much rather talk about the Democrats.
“So for all those Democrats who shanked it in 2009, here’s your mulligan. Here’s your chance to finally get on the same page with the American people,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “Because they overwhelmingly oppose this law. And you can’t open a newspaper these days without being struck by some new reason you should too.”
But conservative critics argue the GOP leader is caving to Democrats and stabbing Cruz in the back if he allows the debate to stop which will give them room to restore the funding in the spending bill.
“People talk about what one man can do, well we’re seeing perfect evidence of what one man can do and what one man can do is a lot more than none can do,” says Bevin. “And what we’re getting is a whole lot of none from Senator Mitch McConnell on any number of fronts. Mitch McConnell is all about getting re-elected and he’s all about what is politically expedient.”
Bevin's stance could be somewhat complicated, however, by reports that Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has endorsed McConnell, privately discouraged Cruz's plan as a poor strategy that would ultimately shut down the federal government.
And Cruz's tactics have been roundly criticized by Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate as grandstanding and an overreach.
From The Washington Post:
In the end, this entire episode may not hurt Cruz’s standing among his enthusiastic base of unwavering conservatives across the country. It might even make him a bigger star in their eyes.
But inside Washington, it’s a different story. He’s already enraged House Republicans by seeking to shift the burden of responsibility to them in the effort to defund Obamacare. And now, he’s failed to win over two senators (Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cronyn of Texas) badly in need of conservative cred wherever they can get it.
But the nuance and maneuvering inside the Beltway may mean little to conservative voters in Kentucky who are vehement about their opposition to Obamacare, which is in part due to McConnell's persistent rallying against the law.
“This is all being pushed on the little people,” says Johnson.”Senator Mitch McConnell has forgotten who he represents. He is doing everything he can right now to lose his job. If that's what he is trying to do he's going to succeed.”