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Sen. Tim Kaine: Cruz's speech threatens government shutdown

Wednesday - 9/25/2013, 5:09pm  ET

The threat of a government shutdown

Sen. Tim Kaine

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WASHINGTON - Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) says the marathon speech of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) against Obamacare is "not a constructive exercise" and unnecessarily puts the country at risk of a government shutdown.

In an interview with WTOP on Wednesday, Kaine questioned the tactics of Cruz and other Republican lawmakers.

"It's just the wrong way to go about it. We shouldn't be wrapping up the debate about this with the question of whether government shuts down. Threatening a government shutdown is just unacceptable," he says.

Kaine says opponents of Obamacare should introduce legislation and propose alternatives.

House Republicans say they have introduced legislation. Their emergency spending bill includes a provision that would defund Obamacare.

Kaine acknowledges that Cruz has suggested different approaches to healthcare reform, and believes he has some good ideas. But he adds: "There's a way for it to be constructive, but this is not a constructive exercise."

"Let's have this debate about the policy of the Affordability Care Act -- can it be improved? If some want to argue that it should be repealed, they can argue that too," he says. "But let's have that not connected with whether the government of the greatest nation in the history of the earth should shut and padlock the doors next week."

Kaine took to the Senate floor Tuesday to ask Cruz questions as the Texas lawmaker railed against the Affordable Care Act.

During their discussion of healthcare reform on the Senate floor, Cruz said to Kaine: "You and I have talked many times about we could work together. We have yet to find a great opportunity to do so, but I am hopeful that will change."

Listen to WTOP's full interview with Kaine above.

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