Sen. Michael Bennet Invokes 2013 Flood to Light into Sen. Ted Cruz Over Federal Shutdown
Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in a rare move Thursday lit into his colleague Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on the Senate floor, invoking the 2013 federal government shutdown Cruz helped start while Boulder County was just beginning to recover from a devastating flood disaster.
Local governments across the Front Range have been largely dependent on federal dollars to fund the rebuilding of infrastructure damaged in the flooding.
The debate between the two senators was over the current, record-long federal funding impasse, which was again prolonged by failures Thursday of separate Republican and Democratic bills to reopen the government.
Bennet, a Democrat who normally avoids public clashes with the other party, started his fiery speech in response to Cruz criticizing Democrats for objecting to the Republican funding bill because U.S. Coast Guard officials are not being paid.
“These crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take,” Bennet said.
He then shouted, “When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. 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.”
Current budget disagreements between the parties continue to hinge on allocating taxpayer funds to a southern border wall. President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to deliver the wall, at times by saying Mexico would pay for it, to curb illegal immigration.
Bennet questioned the efficacy of Trump’s proposed wall, calling it “rinky-dink,” and pointed out there was Democratic support for the bill that ended the 2013 shutdown with $46 billion allocated toward border security projects.
Cruz famously opposed that funding proposal in a 21-hour speech because it included money for Affordable Care Act provisions. He voted Thursday for a Trump-led proposal to end the shutdown by funding the wall.
“I agreed to the president’s compromise because it didn’t extend amnesty to anybody not covered already under current law and, critically, it didn’t create a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally,” Cruz said in a statement.
Bennet, along with Colorado’s Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, last week urged leaders of federal agencies assisting with ongoing flood recovery efforts in Boulder County and across the Front Range to consider extending deadlines for funding applications of local governments. The shutdown is delaying needed approvals for a number of projects.
“We do deeply appreciate the consistent support of our federal delegation, including Sen. Bennet, over the five-plus years of flood recovery, in particular during especially challenging moments,” Boulder County Commissioners Office Policy Analyst Leslie Irwin said in an email.
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/samlounz .