August 4th, 2013
01:58 PM ET
9 years ago

GOP lawmakers split on threat to shut down government over Obamacare

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(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. sammy750

    The Republicans are filling the air ways today denouncing Obamacare. Telling people doctors will close down clinics and other LIES. The real threat to America is the Republicans. They are the terrorist.

    August 4, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  2. Pinkston

    Oh yeah, shut it down. Play the fool. Be the big person on campus, at least until the long arm of reality clamps it's cold clammy claw on your shoulder and pulls your stupid empty head back to the realism that the nation runs on other items, not just your idealism(s).

    August 4, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  3. just me

    Even the gop can not be this clueless. Oh wait, it's the tea baggers and those pandering to them. I take it back.

    August 4, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  4. rs

    GOP- Shut down the government, and your party instantly becomes completely irrelevant.

    August 4, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  5. Len

    We need Healthcare! Stop watching and listening to Fox News! Read the bill.

    August 5, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  6. necronn99

    Shut it down and give Obama his walking paper while you are at it.

    August 5, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  7. CaliforniaAc

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and right now only the ugly side of the Repugs is there for the whole world to behold: bring our country down to make sure all Americans don't have medical care, shut down schools to make it an uneven playing field for minorities' youth, starve our elderly to save tax money for the wealthy, privatize the mail and the school system so the vulture capitalists can keep lining their pockets on the backs of the poor and middle class. Only in America!

    August 5, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  8. Vicki

    They can go for it and be the raging idiots who will make a lot of people very angry when they do not get paid for their work. When no one gets there Social Security and Medicare that won't be very pleasing to a lot of people. Yes the GOP should do that because they have done nothing worthwhile and this will just be the topping that will turn off more people. These tea party idiots will cause more trouble for the House. So there is not telling what damage they will do to our government and to our country.

    August 5, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  9. Mikey01h

    Yep! Gramsey is about as much like Regan as Benedict Arnold is like George Washington.
    Thinks so much like a progressive, he beginning to lie like one...

    August 5, 2013 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  10. J.V.Hodgson

    The only people @Stuffit that stole elections were gerrymandering republican states who now continue by demonstrating by states Republican governed, that are passing laws that proved the voting rights law remained essential and that SCOTUS has made yet another appalling decision.
    If our Republican colleagues have real ideas/ policy why don't they thrash them out in budget reconciliation. Or present a realistic alternative Jobs creation act.
    Hello have you got a brain?? 40 failed attempts to get rid of PPACA.... so will the next 40 until 2016 even if it takes the veto pen.. Its his signature piece of legislation, until you control the White house and senate at least all this pussy footing around does nothing to help our economy.
    PS had you noticed the budget deficit is significantly down!

    August 5, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |

    Make our day wingnuts. The Guns Over People Shutdown Government tea potty couldn't pass the Ryan budget this year.

    August 5, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  12. GI Joe

    Before all of you start ranting about ACA and Hospitalists (I've seen it on other sites) just do some basic research. It was a new word to me so I googled "when did Hospitalists start". It was an old article from 2000:

    When John R. Nelson, FACP, went to work as a hospitalist 13 years ago, he planned to do a one-year stint while waiting to start his endocrinology fellowship. He found that he enjoyed working as a hospitalist so much, though, that he passed up the endocrinology training and stayed on permanently with the Hospital Internal Medicine practice in Gainesville, Fla.

    Because training to become a hospitalist is similar to internal medicine training, transitioning from residency into a career as a hospitalist is one of the smoothest in the field, according to Dr. Nelson, co-founder and former President of the National Association of Inpatient Physicians. "I feel like I'm still doing what I did when I was a resident," he said, "only it's better."

    Dealing with scheduling hassles is the trickiest part of a hospitalist's career. It can be hard for doctors to take weekends off, for example. If 20 patients need to be cared for on Friday, those 20 probably need care on Saturday as well. "You're really stepping into a job that is 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Dr. Nelson said.

    August 5, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  13. RandyIA

    I keep hearing the law is the law, then how can portions be delayed with no congressional action?

    August 5, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
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