As we’ve covered this week and last week, Senate Democrats have blocked aid to Israel multiple times. President Joe Biden also threatened to veto a bill from Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), even though it passed the House by a bipartisan vote, because it didn’t contain aid for Ukraine. During Wednesday’s episode of “The Verdict,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), another senator who brought the bill, dug deeper into the ugliness.
As co-host Ben Ferguson pointed out it came “on a day when 200,000 plus came to the steps of the Capitol to support Israel.” Leaders from both parties spoke at the event, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
After speaking to his own experience at the “Stand With Israel” event, Cruz laid out how as he came back to the Senate, “a group of us… decided ‘okay, enough is enough, we’re going to force a vote on military aid to Israel right now.”
As Cruz pointed out, not only does the Biden administration want to tie critical aid for Israel to Ukraine, but “also more broadly to their efforts to increase illegal immigration.” He also explaoined that the House “paid for the $14 billion [by] rescinding funding that the Democrats had previously passed into law to hire 87,000 new IRS agents.”
Ferguson kept returning to his shock that Democrats would all vote against Israel, as he wondered “how on earth is it that not a single Democrat would come over and stand with Israel on this? Or was this just a ‘hey, we as a Democratic Party, we always vote together, even if it screws Israel?'” Ferguson passionately referred to the vote as “one of the most tone deaf votes I’ve ever witnessed.”
Cruz offered that the vote was “a manifestation” of what he mentions in his book “Unwoke,” in that “today’s Democrats… don’t give a damn about substance, they care about power,” adding “and because the corrupt corporate media will not report on what they say, they are not accountable for what they do.”
The senator launched into an explanation of the procedural moves that brought this Tuesday evening vote to the floor. The cloture petition move allows 16 senators to file a petition to force a vote, which means they “can basically hijack the Senate floor from the Senate Majority Leader.” As Cruz also explained, it’s “very, very rarely used because both Schumer and [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell hate it.”
While Cruz said he could understand that, he still justified using it, especially since Schumer was block voting on the bill, with Cruz emphasizing “Schumer was single-handedly preventing a vote on emergency military aid to Israel.”
In response to Ferguson wondering how many senators don’t actually know how that works, Cruz responded “about 90,” with “only a handful of senators understand[ing] the rules.”
Cruz had particularly strong words for Schumer, as he argued he’s “not willing to give up the funding for the army of 87,000 IRS agents,” and even “values harassing political enemies of the White House more than military aid for Israel” and “wants to tie it to all the political priorities of Democrats, and hold that military aid hostage.”
As bipartisan as supporting Israel might seem to be, Cruz offered Democrats “recognize that all the Republicans strongly support military aid for Israel” and “they see that cynically as a political opportunity,” as how ‘”this is something Republicans want, let’s hold it hostage.'” It also comes down to those in the Democratic Party who don’t support Israel. Democrats are “getting blasted by the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, radical anti-semitic left–the Squad–and so they’re all nervous.”
Cruz offered this is why Schumer “didn’t want to force Democrats to vote on it, and he felt like he had exquisite power.” But, for all that power, “Schumer screwed up.” He could have prevented the move by filing pending motion to proceed to something else, which would block the other motion. Instead, “Schumer was lazy… and so the floor was wide open,” Cruz explained.
Eleven Republican senators were able to gather and plan. Marshall, as the one who thought up the plan, was the one they backed. A Senate floor aide for Schumer even came to the cloak room. “He doesn’t say this out loud, but everything in his expression goes ‘oh sh*t,'” like he knew this–he had figured out what we were trying to do,” Cruz shared.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who was part of their group, then interrupted Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who was unaware of the plan, under the guise of an emergency. Marshall was recognized, and then had the floor and moved to proceed to the House bill.
It gets juicier from there. “Once he did that, the Democrats are in panic, they’re like ‘oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, oh crap,'” Cruz explained about Marshall. After he moved to proceed to the bill, Marshall no longer had the floor. “It’s a jump ball at that point,” Cruz shared. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) made his move then to be recognized after the clerk read the title of the bill.
Because the presiding officer was a Democrat, Sen. Peter Welch of Vermont, Warnock was called on, as he noted “I suggest the absence of a quorum,” triggering “a mandatory quorum call,” which means nothing else can take place. As Cruz explained, “we proceeded over the next hour periodically, one after the other, we grabbed the microphone, we’d stand up, and say, ‘Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call,'” which is a way to say, as Cruz candidly put it, ‘end the quorum call, let’s vote on this damn thing,'” something they did “like 30 times,” though Democrats kept objecting. “You can do that forever,” Cruz said.
As members tried to decide what to do next, with Democrats wondering how they could avoid the vote, Republicans made their point clear. “What we want is a roll call vote, where every senator has to go on record. Do you support funding for Israel? Or do you oppose funding for Israel?”
After two hours, Cruz explained, Democrats “finally said ‘screw it, we’re going to force through the votes.'” The senator also made clear “I cannot overstate how upset Chuck Schumer was, how upset the Democrats were” in being “blindsided.”
That brings us to the straight party-line vote with every Democrat blocking support for Israel, which Cruz made sure to emphasize. This includes not only Schumer, who “calls him[self] the defender of Israel,” but also vulnerable Democrats up for reelection: Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Cruz pointed out that “the amazing thing is it was a straight party-line vote, which means every single one of those Democrats I named was the deciding vote. Literally, if one Democrat had voted were with us, this was a 50-vote threshold, so one Democrat could have passed this. But every Democrat voted no.”
“It was a moment of clarity, and I think a moment of clarity that will come down to the election next year, where the Democrats have made clear that partisan politics matters more to them than standing with Israel right now,” Cruz offered.
The bipartisan cause of supporting Israel makes the vote even more noteworthy. Ferguson pointed out that he does believe some Democrats are “friends of Israel,” which is why he was “shocked that not one of them did the right thing here and truly stood with Israel.”
It was also “a spectacularly foolish vote by Democrats.” Cruz listed even more examples of “foolish” Democrats, including Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. It also included Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who isn’t even running for reelection, as revealed last week. As Cruz offered, he figured “‘I guess screw it. I’m leaving the Senate who cares?'”
There’s countless more who, as Cruz explained, “hold themselves out as defenders of Israel, every one of them literally, one of them could say, ‘you know what, we need emergency aid to Israel now. And I don’t care what my party leadership says, I’m not going to do it.’ But they decided, they cracked the whip.”
Cruz had even further insight about the vote, in how it affected those Republicans who brought the vote together. Cruz, who was whipping Republican votes, shared “it was not easy to hold every Republican,” with him also noting “Republican leadership was pissed,” adding “I cannot overstate how angry they were.”
That’s because Democrats could use that tactic once they’re the ones in the minority. Cruz could understand that. But, he made a choice.
“And that’s a reasonable procedural point. I get that. It’s not crazy. That being said, I think the crisis in Israel is so dire, the position of the Democrats is so indefensible, that it made sense to force it, so we did it,” the senator shared.
Cruz revealed some key insight, and emotion, when it came to whipping the votes:
But when we’re voting on it, there were a number of Republicans close to leadership, who delayed their vote… and I was talking to them personally, and I was saying, ‘please, please vote to do the right thing.’ Because if we ended up with a vote, where you had all the Democrats and two or three or five Republicans, it would totally blur the distinction. They could say ‘there’s a bipartisan vote against this procedural game.’ That’s what the Democrats would say. And so, I was begging Republicans, ‘please, this is something I get, you don’t like the procedural mechanism that we forced this vote,’ but we did. Once we did let’s actually be united and be team players. And miraculously, look, it was close, and I was talking to staffers, I was talking to members, I was lobbying I was in the well of the Senate, working vote by vote by vote. We got every single Republican, 100 percent. That was a big deal because it means that each and every Democrat–there is not a Democrat in the Senate, who was not the deciding vote on this motion. And that is a big deal for clarity.
Cruz also wanted to underscore how Democrats are able to get away with such moves because of the mainstream media, also pointing to how “Unwoke” goes after “the corrupt corporate media.”
The senator launched into a point he made in a previous podccast episode from last month, which we covered at the time, in which he called out the mainstream media for being so anti-Israel, that, as he noted in that previous episode, they’re “Hamas’ air force.” This is why Democrats get away with it. “Many of the corrupt corporate media are openly cheering for Hamas. And so, Democrats can cast spectacularly foolish votes and know their constituents will never know about it,” Cruz warned.
I blindsided the Democrats.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 15, 2023
Schumer brags about defending Israel, but when Republican senators forced a vote on military aid to Israel, every Democrat voted no.
Democrats are on the record siding with leftist antisemites.
Behind the scenes on #Verdict.https://t.co/CrGy3bV0vb