WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn't back the push by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to vote against bringing up a bill to defund Obamacare, a McConnell aide told The Huffington Post.
"Senator McConnell supports the House Republicans' bill and will not vote to block it, since it defunds Obamacare and funds the government without increasing spending by a penny," McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said.
Until now, McConnell has been largely quiet as Cruz has been ramping up his calls on Senate Republicans to filibuster the funding bill when it comes up for a vote this week. The measure, passed by the House Thursday, would do two things: fund the government past Oct. 1 and defund President Obama's health care law. Since Democrats control the Senate, and since they've already vowed to strip out the Obamacare provision and only hold a clean vote on funding the government, Cruz is urging Republicans to vote against bringing up the bill at all -- and be willing to risk a government shutdown. On top of that, Cruz has argued that anyone who even votes to bring up the bill is, in effect, voting for Obamacare.
Stewart said McConnell is far more interested in voting directly on the bill to defund Obamacare.
"He will also vote against any amendment that attempts to add Obamacare funding back into the House Republicans' bill," Stewart said. "If and when the Majority Leader goes down that path, Washington Democrats will have to decide -- without hiding behind a procedural vote -- whether or not to split with their leadership and join Republicans and their constituents in opposing the re-insertion of Obamacare funding into the House-passed bill."
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the senior senator from Cruz's home state and the number-two Republican in the Senate, also doesn't support Cruz's filibuster strategy.
"Sen. Cornyn will not block a bill that defunds Obamacare," Cornyn spokeswoman Megan Mitchell told The Huffington Post.
Earlier Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also rejected Cruz's strategy, saying it's "not the best tactic" for Republicans to risk a government shutdown over Obamacare.
This is a developing story and has been updated.