MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mitch McConnell may be ruling out a government shutdown at the end of September, but Sen. Ted Cruz certainly is not.
"The last government shutdown occurred because Barack Obama and Harry Reid took an extreme position and they were unwilling to compromise and negotiate," the Texas Republican said of the 2013 budget standoff. "So, I cannot give any guarantee as to whether the Obama administration will once again play partisan political games. For six-and-a-half years, that has been their pattern. So, no one would be surprised to see them go down that road again."
Cruz was in suburban Charleston to kick off a 2016 presidential campaign bus tour that will see him hit seven states in seven days throughout the South, following Thursday night's GOP debate in Cleveland. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, held a news conference at the Capitol Thursday in which he once again insisted there would be not shutdown on his watch .
"Yeah, we'll fund the government," McConnell said. "I can't tell you what will finally end up in or out of a government funding bill, but I can tell you without fear of contradiction there will be no government shutdown."
Cruz was roundly criticized for his role in advocating for cutting off funding for the Affordable Care Act in the lead-up to October 2013. This time, the impetus would be a conservative-led effort to block federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the focus of multiple questions for McConnell Thursday.
"The past couple of weeks, we've seen ... four or five videos come out of senior Planned Parenthood officials selling the body parts of unborn children, callously, heartlessly," Cruz said.
He has also been making a campaign pitch about a federal inquiry into the organization that was one of many raucous applause lines for the conservative audience in the Palmetto State.
"If the Justice Department had integrity, it would immediately open an investigation into whether those Planned Parenthood officials who confessed to felonies on camera indeed committed criminal conduct," Cruz said. "And it would likewise open up an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood itself is a criminal enterprise."
"Of course federal taxpayer funds should not go to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise that is committing a pattern of felonies selling the body parts of unborn children," Cruz said, speaking with a small cadre of reporters after the launch event in a packed restaurant and bar that was exceeding capacity.
"Already President Obama and Harry Reid are threatening a shutdown because their partisan commitment to Planned Parenthood is so extreme they would be willing to try to force a government shutdown in order to continue sending millions in taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood," said Cruz. "That is indefensible."
See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.