As we look back on this week, four days into the government shutdown, an unlikely bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington: Extreme Tea Party Republicans are to blame for putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work and depriving millions of services they depend on.
It is clear to objective observers that while Democrats have already compromised by swallowing post-sequester funding levels they despise, intransigent Tea Party Republicans refuse to budge from their position. The Republicans’ so-called leaders are unwilling to allow a vote to fund the government at current levels, which would pass, unless they can strip funding away from the Affordable Care Act – funding that has already been appropriated by Congress and is unrelated to the bills currently being debated.
Conservatives’ irrational and unreasonable approach to governing has resulted in a circular firing squad within the GOP. Whether publicly on television, or behind the closed doors of the Senate’s Mansfield Room, nervous Republicans are blaming their own for the current mess in Washington.
Tea Partiers are inarguably in the driver’s seat of the Republican Party, but there still exist some conservatives in Congress who believe their primary job is to govern. Those who do are unambiguous about who is to blame for the government shutdown: bullheaded members of their own party.
Rep. Peter King: “Republicans Are The Ones Driving It, So We Have To Be Blamed.” According to NY1, “King said he voted against the bill because his own party will take the blame for a shutdown. ‘I think right now, you have to blame the Republicans. We’re the ones doing it,’ King said. ‘I would blame Ted Cruz, and I’d blame the people who follow him in our party. This is definitely something that’s, Republicans are the ones driving it, so we have to be blamed.’” [NY1, 10/1/13]
Rep. Devin Nunes On Tea Party Stubbornness: “It’s Mostly Just About Power. And It’s Just Gotten Us Nowhere.” According to CNN, “When Nunes first started hearing of the strategy to shutdown the government in order to defund Obamacare, he did the math, and thought it couldn’t be done. Republicans didn’t have the 67 Senate votes needed to override a veto from the White House. […] ‘It’s crazy. I don’t understand the whole point, the whole strategy. Most Americans don’t understand it,’ said Nunes. The California Republican said a small group of lawmakers, what he calls ‘the lemming caucus,’ have been blocking GOP House leadership for three years. ‘It’s guys who meet privately. They’re always conspiring. It’s mostly just about power. And it’s just gotten us nowhere,’ said Nunes.” [CNN, 10/3/13]
Sen. Tom Coburn: GOP “Leadership Vacuum” Led To Shutdown. According to The Hill, “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) summed up the frustration of several colleagues at a gathering of the Republican Steering Committee. He chastised Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) for how they have waged their aggressive push to defund ObamaCare. Their rhetoric, Coburn said, has been used in television and radio ads attacking other Republican senators. ‘He said to Cruz and Lee, ‘Don’t pretend to be naïve. You know outside groups are using what you’re doing as ammo against your colleagues,’’ a Republican who attended the meeting said. Coburn also told McConnell that he had allowed the situation to spin out of control. ‘He said to McConnell, ‘This has happened because there’s a leadership vacuum,’’ the Republican source said.” [The Hill, 10/3/13]
Rep. C.W. Bill Young: “It’s Time To Legislate” But Tea Party Faction Is “Pretty Much In Charge Right Now.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Rep. C.W. Bill Young said House Republicans have made their political point on Obamacare but now it’s time to move on. ‘The politics should be over,’ he said in an interview Wednesday. ‘It’s time to legislate.’ Young, R-Indian Shores, said he would support a ‘clean’ stopgap spending bill, one that does not defund or delay Obamacare, so that budget conferees could begin working on larger issues. […] Asked about the pressure Boehner is under with the rise of the tea party, Young said: ‘He withstood the pressure for a long time. He finally has agreed to the outspoken minority of his conference. And they’re pretty much in charge right now.’” [Tampa Bay Times, 10/2/13]
Grover Norquist: Ted Cruz “Pushed House Republicans Into Traffic And Wandered Away.” According to the Washington Post, “He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.” [Washington Post, 10/2/13]
Rep. Devin Nunes: Republicans Behind Shutdown Are “Lemmings With Suicide Vests.” According to the Washington Post, “As a government shutdown looms, tensions are rising within Republican ranks. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had choice words for fellow House Republicans who are willing to see the government shut down over their opposition to Obamacare: ‘Lemmings with suicide vests,’ he called them. ‘They have to be more than just a lemming. Because jumping to your death is not enough,’ he said. ‘You have this group saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re with Obamacare. If you’re not with their plan — exactly what they want to do, you’re with Obamacare. It’s getting a little old,’ he said.” [Washington Post, 9/30/13]
Rep. Peter King: Shutdown Fight “A Fool’s Error Started By Ted Cruz.” According to MSNBC, “Republican Rep. Peter King is not mincing words: Sen. Ted Cruz is to blame for the government shutdown. The New York lawmaker skewered the Tea Party Texan on Tuesday night’s Hardball, insisting there’s no reason for the government to be shut down. ‘This was a fool’s error started by Ted Cruz,’ said King. He added, ‘But we can’t just blame him. We have to blame his acolytes in the Republican conference—30 or 40 who stood with him…I blame Ted Cruz and his supporters.’” [MSNBC, 10/1/13]
Rep. Peter King: Wrong To Go “Through The Side Door To Take Something You Lost Through The Front Door.” According to National Review Online, “King wants to pass a clean continuing-resolution bill. ‘This is going nowhere,’ he says about the standoff with Senate Democrats. ‘If Obamacare is as bad as we say it’s going to be, then we should pick up a lot of seats in the next election and we should win the presidency in 2016,’ he says. ‘This idea of going through the side door to take something you lost through the front door — to me, it’s wrong.’” [National Review Online, 9/30/13]
Sen. Coburn: “Shutting Down The Government Does Not Shut Down Obamacare.” According to The Hill, “Shutting down the federal government would not stop the Obama administration from implementing its signature healthcare law, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Tuesday. Coburn has been sharply critical of the effort to force a government shutdown over ObamaCare funding. He released a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report Tuesday that said such a move would not actually stop the administration from implementing the healthcare law. ‘The memo reveals that if government were shut down, funding for Obamacare would still continue,’ Coburn’s office said in a summary. ‘In other words, shutting down the federal government does not shut down Obamacare.’” [The Hill, 7/30/13]
GOP Senator: Ted Cruz Has “Done Our Country A Major Disservice.” According to Politico, “At the Wednesday lunch, Cruz was asked what he would have done had GOP senators united to filibuster the House bill. ‘He kept trying to change the subject because he never could answer the question,’ the senator said. ‘It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy – it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.’” [Politico, 10/2/13]
Rep. Charlie Dent: “It’s Time To Govern. I Don’t Want To Support A Fool’s Errand.” According to the New York Times, “Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, said on Sunday that he was actively courting Republicans and Democrats to get behind a temporary spending bill to avert a shutdown, even if it contained none of the additional measures the House passed over the weekend. ‘I’m prepared to vote for a clean resolution tomorrow,’ Mr. Dent said. ‘It’s time to govern. I don’t intend to support a fool’s errand at this point.’” [New York Times, 9/29/13]