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GOP Senators Spar With Ted Cruz Over Legislative Strategy

Image: Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Aug. 8, 2014. Tony Gutierrez / AP file

A bipartisan chorus of senators is speaking out against the move by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee to force weekend votes in an effort to get a vote to defund President Obama's recent executive action on immigration.

"Suffice it to say I'm not happy with the strategy [Cruz] has come up with, I think it's totally counterproductive," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters off the Senate floor on Saturday. "This reminds me very much of the shutdown last year where the strategy made absolutely no sense and was counterproductive, and I believe we're in the same kind of situation today."

Shutdown Showdown Ends in the Senate 0:55

The move was met with mixed reactions from Democrats, who admitted that because the Senate is forced to be in session over the weekend, they have time to move forward with a slew of presidential nominations that may not have been considered if they were not in session today.

"I must tell you I'm kinda pleased that it has worked out in a way that it looks like we're going to get our nominations," Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said. "The bottom line is, it looks like what a couple of my colleagues did on the other side of the aisle was play into a scenario where we can get all of our work done."

The Senate is working now on dozens of procedural votes for presidential nominations, many of which are controversial such as the nominees for Surgeon General, the head of Social Security Administration, and the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), all of which have objections from Republicans.

Many Republicans admitted the move by Cruz and Lee was counterproductive because it allowed for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to finish nominees, and thought the ends (using procedural measures to force the vote), did not justify the means.

"I don't see any end goal that can be won, other than irritating people," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters.

"I was in the House for 14 years, and I'm not opposed to lonely tactics," Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said, "But if you're achieving something, that's the test, and I don't see what we're achieving here. I just don't."

The weekend's delay has now sparked questions of what this means for a 114th Congress with a new Republican majority, especially considering Cruz and Lee went against an agreement by Sens. Reid and McConnell to take the weekend off and hold all the votes for the $1.1 trillion government funding bill on Monday.

"I think the Republican caucus is probably concerned that this is a prelude for what's next," Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., "I think if I were the Republican leadership I'd be very worried about the ability to govern if this is going to become the norm."

Collins said the move puts a sour end to the year when Republicans were hoping to come into 2015 with a message of getting Congress working again.

"It is not in keeping with our Republican commitment to return to normal order and to show the people of this country that we can govern responsibly," she said. "This is certainly a very poor way to end the year and will only confirm the public's already low opinion of Congress."