Sen. Ted Cruz's Obamacare hearing in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Thursday afternoon began rather bizarrely.
To his right sat two Democrats: Sens. Christopher Coons, the ranking member of the oversight subcommittee, and Richard Blumenthal.
Directly in front of Cruz was an empty row of seats, vacant because witnesses from the Obama administration who were asked to fill them didn't show up. Beyond that was an audience filling almost every seat in the room, drawn by the hearing's subject: the writing of the Obamacare subsidy rule, a topic that is also in a roundabout way currently under consideration by the Supreme Court.
The Treasury Department had told Cruz last week that it wouldn't be sending any witnesses, so the Texas Republican wasn't surprised. The empty table was theater, and Cruz took advantage of the opportunity, railing against the Affordable Care Act and the administration for not sending the requested Treasury officials, a snub which he called "the height of arrogance."
"It's a symbol for how little regard the Obama administration has for the American people," Cruz said. "By their absence, I take it the administration is saying they are not subject to oversight."
Cruz wrote a letter last week to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew threatening to "pursue other options, including compulsory process."