Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) turned heads during a speech on the Senate floor Friday as he led with critical remarks towards Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that accused him of lying to his fellow Republican legislators.
In his speech, Cruz recalls Senate deliberations on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and how the legislation received enough votes to pass once a deal was made with Democrats over another matter--a vote to renew the Export-Import Bank, the government's export credit agency that works to support American jobs "by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services."
When Cruz approached McConnell for details on the TPA deal and the Export-Import Bank, he received a firm answer from McConnell.
"The Majority Leader was visibly angry with me, that I would ask such a question," Cruz said. "And the Majority Leader looked at me and said, 'There is no deal, there is no deal, there is no deal."
"I oppose the Export-Import Bank," McConnell said, according to Cruz. "'All I said is they can offer an amendment like any Senator can to any bill.'"
Cruz, a free trade proponent, initially supported TPA legislation despite his staff telling him that McConnell lied to him.
"As TPA moved on, as it went to the House, it became abundantly clear--there was a deal," Cruz said.
He added: "The second time TPA came up, I voted no because of that corrupt deal."
McConnell was not present when Cruz delivered his fiery speech, and did not answer questions relating to Cruz by reporters in the Capitol building, according to the Associated Press.
The speech was a sharp deviation from standard Senate decorum--a Senate rule specifically forbids a Senator from calling out another:
"No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator."
But Betty K. Koed, Senate historian, told the Associated Press that calling another Senator a liar does not break Senate rules.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters to take Cruz's actions with a grain of salt.
"I think it's wrong to disclose private information, especially when the disclosure is not accurate."
"Keep in mind, he's running for president. People who run for president do some very interesting things."
A test vote last month revealed that 65 Senators would vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. House Republicans backing the legislation totaled to 60, surpassing the amount needed for the Democratic-backed bill to pass, The New York Times reported.
Photo Credit: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons