Cruz vows to speak until he can’t against Obamacare
WASHINGTON — Tea party conservative Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday vowed to speak in opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law until he’s “no longer able to stand,” even though fellow Republicans privately urged him to back down from his filibuster for fear of a possible government shutdown in a week.
“This grand experiment is simply not working,” the Texas freshman told a largely empty chamber of the president’s signature domestic issue. “It is time to make D.C. listen.”
Egged on by conservative groups, the potential 2016 presidential candidate excoriated Republicans and Democrats in his criticism of the three-year-old health care law and Congress’ willingness to gut the law. Cruz supports the House-passed bill that would avert a government shutdown and defund Obamacare, as do many Republicans. However, they lack the votes to stop Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from moving ahead on the measure, stripping the health care provision and sending the spending bill back to the House.
That didn’t stop Cruz’ quixotic filibuster. Standing on the Senate floor, with conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah nearby, Cruz talked about the American revolution, Washington critics and the impact of the health care law.
“The chattering class is quick to discipline anyone who doesn’t fall in line,” complained Cruz, who led a small band of opponents within Republican ranks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the GOP’s No. 2, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, opposed Cruz’ tactic, and numerous Republicans stood with their leadership rather than Cruz. Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Republican, declined to state his position.
“I think we’d all be hard-pressed to explain why we were opposed to a bill that we’re in favor of,” McConnell told reporters. “And invoking cloture on a bill that defunds Obamacare, it doesn’t raise taxes, and respects the Budget Control Act strikes me as a no brainer.”
Benedict emerges and defends his abuse record
VATICAN CITY — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has emerged from his self-imposed silence inside the Vatican walls to publish a lengthy letter to one of Italy’s most well-known atheists. In it, he denies having covered up for sexually abusive priests and discusses everything from evolution to the figure of Jesus Christ.
Excerpts of the letter were published Tuesday by La Repubblica, the same newspaper which just two weeks ago published a similar letter from Pope Francis to its own atheist publisher.
The letters indicate that the two men in white — who live across the Vatican gardens from one another — are pursuing an active campaign to engage non-believers. It’s a melding of papacies past and present that has no precedent and signals that the popes — while very different in style, personality and priorities — are of the same mind on many issues and might even be collaborating on them.
Benedict wrote the letter to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an Italian atheist and mathematician who in 2011 wrote a book “Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You.” The book was Odifreddi’s reaction to Benedict’s classic “Introduction to Christianity,” perhaps his best-known work.
In his book, Odifreddi posed a series of polemical arguments about the Catholic faith, including the church’s sex abuse scandal. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Vatican office responsible for abuse cases, and was pope when scandal erupted in 2010, with thousands of people coming forward in Europe, Latin America and beyond saying they had been molested by priests while the Vatican turned a blind eye.
In his letter, Benedict denies personal responsibility, saying: “I never tried to cover these things up.”