Senate vote on Obamacare near

WASHINGTON (MCT) – The Senate is expected to take a key vote Wednesday that would smooth the path for an eventual showdown over President Barack Obama’s health care plan, but the midday vote is likely to inflame a raging war within the Republican Party.

A group of Republican senators tried to launch an old-fashioned filibuster Tuesday, despite pleas from party leadership to back off.

“I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he kicked off the effort. Behind him was an army of Senate allies and grass-roots conservatives, defying Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other top Republicans who want to limit debate. They figure the Democratic-run Senate will never agree to strip the health care money.

Fight anyway, said conservative interest groups. “This is the ultimate betrayal,” the Senate Conservatives Fund said of the Senate’s top two Republicans, McConnell and John Cornyn of Texas. The Club for Growth said it would include the debate vote on its 2014 congressional scorecard.