A long-simmering feud between establishment Republicans and Tea Partyers broke into full view Thursday, with Sen. John McCain accusing younger colleagues of overplaying their hands and tempting Democrats to change Senate rules that protect the minority party.
Tactics for dealing with the government’s budget and debt became the latest quarrel In a string of them between McCain —sometimes joined by other traditionalist Republicans —and Tea Party champions such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Those four won Senate seats by defying the party establishment, and are shaking up the tradition-bound Senate with no-compromise, no-apology stands on key issues like debt and deficits, government spending and the use of drones in the war on terrorism.
Cruz, who like Paul is weighing a 2016 presidential bid, renewed his taunts of the party establishment in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor. The more accommodating Republicans, he said, are in cahoots with Democrats to raise the government’s borrowing limit by disabling the GOP’s ability to mount a filibuster threat that could be used to extract spending cuts from Democrats and the White House
Calling it “a dirty little secret,” Cruz said Republicans “would very much like to cast a symbolic vote against raising the debt ceiling and nonetheless to allow our (Democratic) friends on the left side of the aisle to raise the debt ceiling.”