August 4th, 2013
01:58 PM ET
8 months ago

GOP lawmakers split on threat to shut down government over Obamacare

(CNN) - After members of Congress return from their monthlong recess, Washington will brace for yet another budget battle that entails reaching an agreement to continue funding the government beyond September 30.

The debate will probably center on whether Republicans should attach a measure to defund Obamacare to the upcoming spending bill. But Democrats and some Republicans argued Sunday morning that taking such an approach will almost guarantee more gridlock in Congress.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, for example, predicted on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Republicans would come back in September and “double down on obstruction.”

“The fact of the matter is that their chaos, their extremism is hurting the economy,” said Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “We should pass a budget in September instead of shutting down the government.”

READ MORE: Ending Obamacare, avoiding gov't shutdown a juggling act for Boehner

Several conservative senators - including Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky - have largely given voice to the threat of a government shutdown. And a bloc of about 71 House Republicans say they will refuse to vote for a measure that funds the government if it continues to fund the Affordable Care Act.

The legislative maneuver would add to the 40 times that the House has already voted to get rid of the president’s signature health care reform, which Republicans say will damage the economy.

Cruz said Monday that Washington’s top priority should be restoring economic growth.

“And nothing is hurting economic growth more than Obamacare,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”

But not all GOP lawmakers are signing on to the shutdown strategy. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said Sunday that Cruz’s approach is “playing into the hands of the president politically and not the right thing to do.”

“Plus, it’s going to do great harm to the American people if we pursue that course,” he added.

Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and CNN contributor, said Republicans “have never been very good at playing ‘the shut down the government card.’

“It has actually never helped. ‘We're going to hold our breath, until you, the voter, turns blue,’ is not good political strategy,” he told Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent.

Asked in a “Fox News Sunday” interview if he supported the short-term extension, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said “yes.”

“I think most conservatives - most on the left, Republicans, Democrats alike - say we shouldn't be for a government shutdown,” he said. He added, however, that House Republicans are trying to “fund the government and make sure also that we take away the kinds of things that are standing in the way of a growing economy, a better health care.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said trying to defund Obamacare by tying it to the continuing resolution isn’t as simple as it appears.

“With the government shutdown, we're talking about discretionary spending, government agency budgets. But it doesn't affect entitlements. Obamacare is an entitlement like Medicare and Social Security is, so the entitlement continues on, even under a government shutdown scenario. So it’s just not that simple and easy,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Paul said all Republicans want to see Obamacare eliminated, but he cautioned there are better strategies than trying to defund it come September 30.

“Rather than swinging for the fences and trying to take this entire law out with discretionary spending, I think there are more effective ways of achieving that goal,” he said. “We think that we can do better by delaying this law.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, have also publicly opposed the shutdown threat.

And while House Speaker John Boehner isn't overtly ruling out picking a fight with President Barack Obama over a spending bill, he is laying out an alternative strategy to avoid a government shutdown. During a closed-door meeting Wednesday with House Republicans, Boehner tried to "gently hold members' hands and walk them away from this," said one GOP source who was in the room.

– CNN senior congressional producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Congress • Health care • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Fleacircus4

    Bunch of crooks all of them they should take a pay cut if they go on vacation they should not get paid!

    August 4, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. Tigas

    But if ObamaCare is so good:
    Why won't thePresident and his family go on it to lead by example.
    Why doesn't Congress mandate it for themselves.
    Why are the ObamaCare enforcers, the IRS, resisting it?

    August 4, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. anonoymous

    So if we dont get our way we're gonna take our toys. Does the gop realize we can hear and see them? Why is the aca so damaging to them? This song and dance is getting past old and tired. Aca is law like it or not. Please move on to something else like a jobs bill. Why not fight tooth and nail for something like that.

    August 4, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. elucidated1

    So, let me get this straight. Republicans are trying to decide whether to "shut this government down" to stop Obamacare? They've voted 40 times to overturn a Congressional law even though the SCOTUS made a positive ruling on it? And NOW they are worried that they'll get blamed for it? Talk about oblivious.

    August 4, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. fayray11x

    whoa, not a day goes by without the GOP showing us what a mistake they are.

    August 4, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Well, the option appears to be........have employers shut down half the country, by laying off, or closing down.

    August 4, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. L.Sanfod

    So the GOP war on women, the poor and immigrants continues? No! It is escalating beyond belief to the middle class.It is also a war on children, firemen. police.educators, the retired and just plain hard working people.It is mind boggling that the middle class people in the Tea Party don't get it. It is also a war on them

    August 4, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. rs

    There is probably a good "Dumb and Dumber" joke here. Seriously though, perhaps it is the passage of time at work here, but obviously those hoping a government shut-down would be a good thing need a history lesson. The Republicans got really beat up, and lost an election or two because of it- just ask the Adulterous Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The same scenario was playing at the time- GOP in charge, and over-reach occurred, except today of course the GOP is in over reach on steroids. Perhaps they deserve to get clubbed in the head again and lose some elections, but is sure is a stupid way to run the country- one party working for the majority of Americans , and one acting like our foreign enemies.

    August 4, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP morons just can't see the light of day,47 percent of voters support obamacare and about 16 percent say it doesn't go far enough which is more then the 51 present that the GOP says oppose the law . GOP do the math,53 percent of voters support the law in spite of your GOP bs. You are going to lose the house and senate in 2014 because half of your supporters don't even support your horse and buggy agenda and obstruction anymore. Get a clue as your heroine nancy police says!!!!!

    August 4, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Tony

    With the terror alert going on, some Republicans are still working to shut down the government. They are apparently unaware of the fact that the House is in charge of writing the budget, and Obama cannot spend money that Congress has not approved. Who needs Al Qaeda when Republicans are working from inside to destroy our country.

    August 4, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. T-Thaddeus

    The level of intelligence displayed by the Republican Party and its supporters is downright ridiculous. OF COURSE Republicans argue that the President is pursuing the wrong policies. To Republicans, crappy education, crumbling infrastructure, inefficient and expensive health care, military spending, trickle down economics, & subsidized oil, are all good policies. If Obama were to implement Republican economic policies our country would be thrown back to the stone age, unable to compete with a global economy and only then will Republicans be happy. This did not work last time, & won't work next time.
    To all the Republicans, take a moment and listen to the America people and not the rich businessman and lobbyist who give political contributions towards your party. Stop allowing money to rule politics and create legislation that benefits the businesses and investors, yet deny the needs of the American people just because they're not able to write out checks to demand change that suits the people. We need more honest and straight-forward politics!!
    The American people are tired of being, "Gop-Blocked"!

    August 4, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    (Romans 13: 1-7) Senator "call for an adjustment in the health care law, not a rejection of the law in its entirety."

    August 4, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    We are sick of GOP obstruction and sabatuage of the economy so shut down the government and see if you still have jobs to come back to after 2014 midterms

    August 4, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Roland

    If it shuts down, what are the consequences? Maybe the GOP better ask this question before getting too entangled in it's own philosophical web of hate, and desire for power. Regardless of what happens, the republicans have rendered themselves impotent on any and all subjects that matter to the people. They are useless.

    August 4, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Go ahead GOP, and you will all be looking for a job after 2014 midterms, yor gerrymandering and vote rigging wont save you . Even your own supporters want you out. People don't like paying for nothing, by by!!!!!

    August 4, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Revolution

    Shut it down!

    August 4, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. PJ

    "I for one" would rather keep the government running instead of having it shut down by the corrupt, incompetent,
    inept corporate toadies than steal one more cent to go into the pockets of the greedy Republicans and their
    greedy "friends". This money would keep people working and hopefully help the hungry, homeless and sick
    children who, by no fault of their own, have parents who love them, and are trying to give their families a
    decent life. This is supposed to be a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people", not just
    the lazy, do-nothing Republican House sucking up every penny and perk they can find.

    August 4, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. king

    its amazing how these repubs always shout about Obama is trying to destroy the constitution. here is a constitution law, by the supreme court, and these repubs are fighting it tooth and nail, where does the hypocrisy ends!!!

    August 4, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. SanityClause

    The thing I love is that the Republicans in congress seem to have no problem with the fact that they are overtly trying to sabotage Obamacare with every means at their disposal. I guess they feel that the American public are a bunch of fools who have no idea that all the GOP cares about is the well being of their wealthy supporters. They have reason to feel that way as they can plainly see that many lower middle class Americans actually think that the Republicans have the interests of the average citizen at heart.

    August 4, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. boungirno

    what goverment, Clearly the USA hasnt got a clue who is running their country BOUGHT & PAID FOR START LEARNING LANGUAGES PEOPLE

    August 4, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. Ron L

    Here is my problem with the "elimination" of the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans are offering NO ideas to help those that have no Healthcare coverage. They are basically saying those that are less fortunate, basically have to dig themselves out of their hole. It is SO EASY for these individuals to prevent Americans from having something they already have. The fact that the Republicans have voted 40 times to repeal something that will NEVER be repealed without a Republican President proves they have little interest in helping the average American. It is ALL ABOUT wasting time and hoping that the economy worsens so they can gain more seats in the House and Senate and then "less fortunate Americans" watch out!! We need younger Americans to vote some of these people out of office. It is the ONLY hope that the country has to ever really move forward economically. We need to raise the minimum wage to $10.00, and we need to somehow separate a persons healthcare insurance from their places of employment. The first one need to happen in the very near future (increasing $0.95 per year for 3 years), the second one in the next 5 to 10 years.

    August 4, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    Gop thugs know they will not win for a decade or two.

    August 4, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. Fred Finegold

    We are the Republicans this what we do best. Sow the seeds of hate.

    August 4, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. Name Uche Agonsi

    Since Boehner assumed Headship of the House with Repubs majority, we have ceased getting healthy intellectually researched & politically exciting news from the House. Rather what oozes out is very odious statements of threats, muscle-flexing & unnecessarily tough posturings over virtually all issues, even the ones that really dont require politicking. Such militancies could only depict two senarios......... Where intellectualism is lacking &/or where reasoning is teleguided or controlled by outside forces. While the former could be solved by more educational inputs & staffing measures, the latter looks systematic. The situation is becoming more destructive than normal politicking should condone. It requires the attention of major stakeholders.

    August 4, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. Hector Slagg

    Something about Fiscal Responsibility.
    Something about Full Time Jobs.
    Something about Unions losing what little gains they have made the last 80 years.
    Something about the Constutition being shredded by Liberal's.
    Somethin about 50 Million on Food Stamps.
    Something about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security going bankrupt.

    August 4, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
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