Moments before the Senate voted Thursday on dueling bills to reopen the government, Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet took to the floor to express his anger with the 33-day shutdown—and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Bennet spent more than 20 minutes ripping into Cruz, accusing the Texas lawmaker of faking his desire to reopen the government. “These crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take,” Bennet bellowed. “They’re too hard for me to take, because when the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was underwater.” “People were killed,” he continued. “People’s houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were ruined, forever.” Bennet was referring to the 16-day shutdown in 2013 that Cruz was credited with starting after he fought Democratic efforts to reduce Obamacare funding.
On Thursday, Cruz took to the floor to urge Democrats to support a bill to pay federal workers while the shutdown continues. “And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shutdown, for politics,” Bennet said after, his face starting to redden. “Then he surfed to a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, but were of no help to the first responders, to the teachers, to the students whose schools were closed with a federal government that was shutdown because of the junior senator from Texas.” Following Bennet’s impassioned speech, Cruz spoke again, arguing that the construction of a border wall has been previously supported by Democrats. “I will say, in my time in the Senate, I don’t believe I have ever bellowed or yelled at one of my colleagues on the Senate floor, and I hope that in my time before me, I don’t ever do that,” Cruz said.