Ted Cruz’s effort to tie United Nations funding to China’s abortion policy provoked a sharp, private rebuke from Mary L. Landrieu on the Senate floor Saturday morning.
Shortly before 4 a.m., the Louisiana Democrat strode from her desk on the Democratic side of the chamber all the way to the Texas Republican’s desk on the far side to give him a piece of her mind after Cruz insisted on a roll call vote on his amendment to the Senate budget resolution (S Con Res 8). Cruz wanted to create a new point of order against funding the United Nations as long as any of its member nations have a policy of involuntary abortions.
“I suggested to him that a more direct and a more effective route might be for Texas to stop all exports to China or to stop any financial exchanges between Texas and China,” Landrieu told CQ Roll Call after she voted on the budget shortly before 5 a.m.
“That would have had a much more direct effect on what he was trying to do than take money from the U.N. ... I thought he might like the idea. He should try it next time,” Landrieu said.
After a cross-looking Landrieu left to return to her desk, a bemused Cruz smirked and chatted with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who voted for the amendment.
The amendment had zero chance of passing — it was defeated 38-61 — but like many of the other amendments considered well after midnight, it appeared to be aimed at putting senators in a politically difficult position: either they go on record whacking the United Nations or they face the potential for attack ads saying they voted to protect forced abortions in China.
“I recognize that members of this body have differing views on the right to life, but surely all of us can be agreed that for a woman to be forced against her will to abort her child is a horrific evil,” Cruz said as he introduced his amendment.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., ripped into Cruz’s argument on the floor.
“No one — no one in this body supports forced abortions. No one,” he said. “However, the United Nations has no authority to control the acts of any individual nation. Instead of punishing the country that maybe — that is carrying out the bad policy, this amendment would go after an entity that has no control over the policy and all the while negatively impacting our national interest.”
Menendez said the amendment would take away all funding for U.N. peacekeeping operations in the Golan Heights, Darfur, Congo, funding for refugees and funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.