National Security

Democrat Senator Rips into Colleagues in Heated Shutdown Rant

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado went after his fellow lawmakers and the president during a floor speech on Thursday

Image Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images & Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) (shown above left) slammed his fellow lawmakers and the president during a heated floor speech Thursday amid discussions about the partial government shutdown and how to resolve it.

The Senate voted Thursday afternoon on two different bills to end the shutdown, which began on December 22.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (above right) pointed to the first responders who were going unpaid during the shutdown in an appeal to his colleagues to reopen the government.

Bennet then slammed him — and aimed sharp words as well at the House Freedom Caucus and President Donald Trump.

“I seldom rise on the floor to contradict someone on the other side,” Bennet said from the floor. “I’ve worked hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way with the presiding officer and my Republican colleagues. But these crocodile tears the senator from Texas is crying over first responders [are] too hard for me to take.”

The bills were intended to end the partial government shutdown — but they were different in key ways.

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Senate Republicans pushed for a bill that would exchange border wall funding for deportation protections that cover the immigrant group known as dreamers. Democrats instead hoped to pass a temporary spending bill without any border wall funding.

Related: Senate Prepares to Vote on Competing Shutdown Bills

“They’re too hard for me to take because when the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded,” Bennet said. “It was under water. People were killed! People’s houses were destroyed! Their small businesses were ruined forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down, for politics.”

He said there was a lack of federal resources back then to help first responders.

“This idea that he was going to build a medieval wall across the southern border of Texas, take land from farmers and ranchers who are there and have the Mexicans pay for it isn’t true,” Bennet also said. “That’s why we’re here. Because he’s now saying the taxpayers have to pay for it. That’s not what he [Trump] said during his campaign.”

“I’m sorry to say, my colleague from Texas, and I respect him and he’s obviously a very intelligent person — but this idea Democrats are for open borders is gibberish,” Bennet said. “Time after time we have supported real border security. Not a wall that Mexico will pay for and that gets you attention at campaign rallies,” he added, in a pointed reference to the president of the United States.

Bennet pointed to a bipartisan bill he helped write before voting that included border security funding in 2013. The Senate passed the bill with a 68 to 32 vote. The House never up took the bill and it ultimately failed.

Bennet then went after the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which he sees as obstructing important bills including on immigration.

“The so-called Freedom Caucus has had a veto around this place for 10 years,” Bennet said. “They completely distorted the Republican Party here, if I do say so myself … I know a lot of Republicans in Colorado who don’t agree with almost anything or anything that the Freedom Caucus has stood for. Yet, they have had a veto on good bipartisan legislation.”

Senate Republicans had hoped to pass a bill that would exchange border wall funding for protecting dreamers and immigration within a Temporary Protected Status (TPS). They did not succeed in this on Thursday.

Trump has refused to sign any spending bills that don’t include $5.7 billion for the border security wall. Democratic leaders have said they are unwilling to negotiate the border wall until the shutdown is over.

“There’s an old saying among Texas trial lawyers,” Cruz said in response to Bennet’s comments. “If you have the facts, you bang the facts, if you don’t have the facts, you bang the law, if you don’t have either one, you bang the table. We’ve heard a whole lot of table banging right here on this floor. The senator from Colorado spent a great deal of time yelling, spent a great deal of time attacking me personally.”

“I think we should discuss issues of substance and facts and not simply scream and yell at each other,” Cruz said. “So let’s go overcome the facts. In the senator from Colorado’s angry speech, he did not dispute, number one, that he and every other Senate Democrat in 2013 voted for 350 miles of border wall. That’s a fact.”

“I think we should discuss issues of substance and facts and not simply scream and yell at each other,” Cruz said.

Trump and congressional leaders from both parties have continued discussions to overcome the stalemate. But the two sides thus far have been unable to overcome their differences despite the regular meetings. Trump has repeatedly argued for stronger security at the border.

“Number two, he did not dispute that in December of last year, the-then Republican House of Representatives voted to fund the government, fund the entirety of the government, and to secure the border and the senator from Colorado and I believe every other Democrat filibustered that bill and caused the shutdown,” Cruz also said on Thursday.

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