Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) exploded at Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on the senate floor Thursday, as senators debate over ending the government shutdown.
Bennet took issue with Cruz’s “crocodile tears” over federal first responders going unpaid during the shutdown. Republicans on Thursday attempted to fund the U.S. Coast Guard in a standalone bill, though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) blocked it on the basis that all federal workers should be able to return to their jobs, not just a select few.
In the speech, Sen. Bennet reminded Cruz that he shut down the federal government in 2013 by blocking a funding bill because it included appropriations for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). During that shutdown, Bennet’s home state of Colorado suffered catastrophic flooding that led to multiple deaths. The parts of the state that were hit the hardest were in national forests, where the federal government has jurisdiction. However, because of the shutdown, non-essential federal employees were furloughed. According to Bennet, Cruz’s role in the shutdown worsened the damage from the floods.
“These crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying are too hard for me to take,” Bennet said. “When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was underwater! People were killed! People’s houses were destroyed! Their small business were ruined! Forever!”
“And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down. For politics! Then he surfed to a second-place finish in the Iowa caucus,” Bennet added (Cruz actually finished first, for the record).
Sen. Michael Bennet rips into Sen. Ted Cruz over shutdown: "When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was under water! People were killed!" https://t.co/1rOu6y1W0a pic.twitter.com/cOKRwred1f
— ABC News (@ABC) January 24, 2019
While Bennet may be wrong about Cruz’s delegate count in Iowa’s 2016 Republican caucus, he’s right about the deadly floods. One year after the floods, The Coloradoan reported that many in the affected communities still hadn’t recovered from the floods, and were still rebuilding their lives after the devastation.
The September 2013 flood ranks among the worst natural disasters in Colorado history. A storm system stalled over the Front Range beginning Sept. 9, dumping the equivalent of a year’s worth of precipitation for some areas over five days.
Mountain rivers and streams rose to unprecedented levels. The fast-moving water tore out small dirt roads and major highways before spilling out onto the plains and inundating parts of Loveland, Greeley and Boulder…
Nine deaths were attributed to the flooding, including two in Larimer County. An estimated 2,000 homes were damaged or destroyed statewide, with damage to public and private property estimated at more than $2 billion.
The shutdown has dragged on for more than a month, with no end in sight. President Trump has signaled he wouldn’t sign any bill to reopen the government that didn’t include $5.7 billion for a border wall (that he repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for), despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) promising to appropriate additional money for border security measures, like increased drug detection efforts at ports of entry and hiring more Border Patrol agents.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.