Around 5:30 PM EST this evening, Rand Paul joined Ted Cruz on the Senate Floor to discuss the prospect of defunding Obamacare. Cruz began his much-anticipated "filibuster" to overhaul the Affordable Care Act at 2:40 PM this afternoon.
“We should not shut down the government,” Cruz said in response to the Kentucky Senator's question asking if that was his singular objective. “And I sincerely hope that Senator Reid and President Obama” don’t force a government shutdown either by ignoring the will of the American people.
Asked in a follow-up question by Senator Paul if he was open to negotiating with Democrats -- i.e., brokering a “middle ground” compromise short of fully defunding the president’s health care law -- Cruz was unambiguous.
“No,” Cruz said emphatically. “Because I have repeatedly told Texans I will not vote for a Continuing Resolution that funds one penny of Obamacare.”
He did note, however, that if Senate Republicans “stand together” they can send a message to the president and Congressional Democrats that the Affordable Care Act is killing jobs, cutting employee work hours, and increasing health care costs.
They were later joined on the Senate Floor by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“Why are Republicans united against Obamacare?” Senator Rubio asked rhetorically upon taking the podium around 6:40 PM. “We are passionate about this opportunity because of the [negative] impact [Obamacare] is having on real people. And at the end of the day that’s what we’re fighting for.”
He also noted that the United States is coming perilously close to losing the very institutions that make it an exceptional nation.
“When we pass bills like Obamacare,” he said, we are hurting the very people we are trying to help. He also called the Affordable Care Act profoundly “unfair,” in part because only those with political connections or deep-seated pockets were able to procure exemptions from the law. Not surprisingly, he continued speaking about the greatness of the free enterprise system and his own parents' "life-changing" experience moving to the United States, until he eventually relinquished the floor. Senator Cruz, in turn, thanked him for his support.
“Senator Rubio,” he said in all seriousness. “You inspire me.”