Washington (CNN) – Newt Gingrich, the man in the House speaker's seat during the last government shutdown more than 17 years ago, urged House Republicans Friday to push forward with their plan to pass a bill that keeps funding the government - but only as long as it defunds Obamacare.
His pitch comes despite calls from some Republicans, including Sen. John McCain and Rep. Peter King, who say taking such an approach could be damaging to the party and the country.
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But Gingrich argued it paid off for the Republicans last time around and will work for the GOP again if they stand their ground.
"It did work for us. First of all, it worked for the country," the former House speaker said on CNN's "New Day." He then ticked off a series of legislative accomplishments - welfare reform, balanced budgets, and tax cuts - that the Republican-controlled Congress worked with then-President Bill Clinton to pass after the shutdown.
He also pointed to the fact that Republicans kept the House majority in the next midterm election in 1996.
"I think if we had rolled over, if we had been afraid to fight, if we had looked like we didn't believe what we said, we wouldn't have gotten any of that stuff," argued Gingrich, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."
Chris Cuomo, co-host of "New Day," pushed back, saying those accomplishments largely happened on Clinton's terms because "he wound up leading the agenda" after Republicans "lost political capital" following the shutdown.
But Gingrich continued to argue "none of those things would have happened had we not had the courage to stand and fight."
Washington is marching toward a shutdown at the end of the month if House Republicans and Senate Democrats don't come to terms on a plan to keep the government funded when money runs out at the end of the month.
The Republican-controlled House is expected to pass a bill Friday that keeps the government running past September 30 - the end of the fiscal year - but strips money for the president's signature health care law. It will go to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where Democrats, with the backing of some Republicans, are set to kill the Obamacare amendment.
The bill would then be sent back to the House, which would have to decide whether to pass it and keep the government running or defeat it and possibly see a government shutdown.
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In the recent dust up over the fiscal deadline, House Republicans in favor of the move to defund Obamacare say they're simply trying to rid the country of a law that a majority of Americans don't like. Rather, Republicans argue, it's the Democrats who are threatening to shut down the government.
"If the House Republicans pass a bill that keeps open every part of the government...why is it their fault if the president and Harry Reid in the Senate then say they're not going to accept keeping open the government?" Gingrich asked.
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Public opinion polls, however, show Republicans would take the blame for a shutdown.
– CNN's Ted Barrett and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.