The battle between veteran Sen. John McCain and tea party backed younger members of the Upper House is intensifying.
Both Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas hit back at the five term Arizonan after they had warned them against blocking a House-Senate conference on the budget bill.
"In case no one's noticed, the way Washington works stinks," Lee said on the Senate floor as he said he wanted to prevent a typical Washington back-room deal.
"There is a reason . . . that six of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States are suburbs of Washington, D.C., a city that produces almost nothing in real tangible economic value. And it's not because the two parties have been so effective taking on the special interests and doing the people's business," Lee added.
Cruz made light of a past quip from McCain that he and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky were "wacko birds" for staging a filibuster on the Obama administration's drone policy.
"It's been suggested that we are wacko birds," Cruz said. "If that is the case, there might be more wacko birds in the Senate than suspected."
Cruz, Lee, and other conservatives fear a House-Senate conference on the budget would include a debt ceiling increase.
"Should the Majority Leader Harry Reid be allowed to raise the debt ceiling with 51 votes?" Cruz asked. That’s the issue. The American people want us to fix the problem and stop digging the debt hole deeper and deeper."
But McCain said he thinks Republicans should go ahead on a budget bill or they risk the fate of other bills, such as the immigration proposal.
If the GOP sets pre-conditions on bills before they go to conference, the precedent would be set to do the same on future legislation, McCain said, according to Politico
"If we agree that a small number of senators could basically change the way the Senate does business, it could have serious ramifications in the future," he said.
GOP obstruction of the budget bill also could push Democrats to make good on their threat of weakening the Senate's filibuster, McCain said.
"If we continue to block things like this and block what is the regular order, than the majority will be tempted to change the rules of the Senate. That would be the most disastrous outcome anyone could imagine."
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