Republican Sens. John McCain and Susan Collins are criticizing three of their more conservative GOP colleagues for taking what McCain called a "bizarre" stand in trying to block a conference with the House on a Senate-passed budget bill.
Their anger is directed at tea party Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah, who so far have stopped the Senate from sending the budget it passed March 23 to a conference committee with the House.
According to the Huffington Post, McCain on Tuesday called the trio’s actions “bizarre,” saying on the Senate floor, “I would like to point out to my colleagues — on this side of the aisle — that for four years . . . we complained about the fact that the majority leader . . . would refuse to bring a budget to the floor of the United States Senate.”
“We did a budget and all of us patted each other on the back and we were so proud we did the budget," he continued. "And, by golly, now we’ll move with the House of Representatives, and we will have a budget, hopefully at least [we’ll] begin negotiations with the House of Representatives, which is a majority of Republicans — not Democrats, Republicans.”
Paul, Cruz and Lee, however, want to prohibit Senate conferees from agreeing to any deal that would raise either taxes or the debt ceiling.
That demand, McCain said, is contrary to the Senate's regular conference process.
“We ‘instruct’ the conferees,” he said. “We don’t ‘require’ the conferees because that’s why we appoint conferees and that’s why we approve or disapprove the result of that conference. That’s how our laws are made.”
It’s not the first time the Arizona Republican has slammed Paul and Cruz over obstructionist tactics. After Paul’s March filibuster over the Obama administration’s drone policy, McCain called Paul’s concerns “totally unfounded" and referred to him and Cruz as "wacko birds."
Collins stopped short of any personal comments about her fellow Republicans, but backed up McCain’s reaction to them standing in the way of a possible budget deal. Joining McCain on the Senate floor, she called for “a return to regular order in this body. Well, regular order is going to conference.”
"Isn't it true that the people that the [conference] would be held with on the other side of the Capitol happen to be a majority of our party?” McCain broke in to ask Collins. “So we don't trust the majority party on the other side of the [Capitol] to come to conference and not hold to the fiscal discipline that we want to see happen? Isn't that a little bit bizarre?"
“It certainly is ironic, at the least,” Collins responded.
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