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Unapologetic Cruz, Lee stand alone amid GOP who've taken it on chin

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 10:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Fool's errand or heroic stand?

The bipartisan compromise on Wednesday to avoid a financial default and end a 16-day partial government shutdown cast a spotlight on Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who had precipitated the crises with their demand that President Obama gut his 3-year-old health care law.

Other Republicans who repeatedly had warned the two about their quixotic move took little pleasure in saying “I-told-you-so.” After they failed to block the biggest expansion of the health care law, the shutdown and near default left the GOP reeling.

“He's the one who got us into this. He had no strategy. And it caused us to waste 16 days and get ourselves killed in the polls,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said of Cruz. “All for a guy who was fraudulent from the start.”

Cruz, a freshman who engaged in a 21-hour talkathon and egged on House Republicans for the fight, was unapologetic and critical of his GOP Senate colleagues.

“Imagine a different world,” Cruz said in a Senate speech. “If all 46 Senate Republicans had stood together and said, we are united against the train wreck that is Obamacare.”

In fact, all Senate Republicans oppose the law; what they had challenged was the senators' tactics.

Lee offered no regrets, vowing to continue the fight to repeal the health care law. “This is not over,” he said in a Senate speech.

Their defiance, however, has been wildly cheered by outside conservative groups and the far right flank that hails Cruz and Lee for what they call a principled, courageous stand.

“I think Ted Cruz and Mike Lee did exactly the job that those of us who helped them get elected” wanted them to do, said Drew Ryun of the Madison Project, one of the first organizations to back Cruz last year in his Senate bid.

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