Although they don't completely agree on the next step following the deal that re-opened the federal government, national conservative leaders in the forefront of the ongoing "spending war" are united on maintaining the sequestration spending cuts that automatically took effect earlier this year and that are reducing federal expenditures.
On the morning after the House voted 285-to-144 to accept the Senate version of the continuing resolution to fund the government, leaders of Americans for Tax Reform, Club for Growth, and Heritage Action spoke to Newsmax about "what happens next."
"In the short term, it's important to maintain sequestration," ATR President Grover Norquist told Newsmax. "As in the Civil War, we have to draw a line and defend the hill. We have to make it clear to our team that sequestration is working and the country is living with sequestration."
As to the attacks on sequestration from the White House, Norquist said, "Conservatives should always remind people that these are the sequester numbers insisted on by the president himself."
"And we must always remember that where some of us were criticized for threatening to not lift the debt ceiling if Obamacare was not funded, [Senate Democratic Leader] Harry Reid will be in a position where he and the Democrats will be threatening not to lift the debt ceiling unless sequestration is changed," Norquist said.
Norquist said the outcome of the recent battle might have been different "if Republicans held both houses of Congress instead of just in the House. It's easier to fire at the enemy when both barrels of the shotgun are aimed at him and one isn't twisted back aiming at you."
Norquist said that Republicans understand that and as a result, "There won't be some of the banging of shoes on the table or heads against the wall. Republicans are quite united in the House and in the Senate – with the exception of [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz."
"I don't agree with everything Grover says, but I do on this," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. "Saving sequestration is an important goal. Why are we even talking about changing it?"
The former Indiana congressman also predicted that the economic situation would get worse "once markets get in the same fights that have politicians have been getting into."
Regarding the Club for Growth's policy of taking on Republican lawmakers who it considers bad on spending issues, Chocola told Newsmax, "We don't use just one vote – even the one last night – as a make-or-break vote. A member has to have a consistently bad record on our issues."
So far, Chocola said, "We have targeted one Republican House member [Mike Simpson of Idaho], but there will be others soon."
On the same day Chocola spoke to Newsmax, the Club for Growth weighed in with a strong endorsement of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging six-term GOP Sen. Thad Cochran for renomination next year.
Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action, told Newsmax that "the last time we checked, everyone had signed off on sequestration. The idea of anybody taking it off the table is a non-starter."
Next for conservatives, said Holler, "is to keep making the case against Obamacare and to make sure the public knows who was responsible for going along with the White House and the Senate Democratic leadership in stopping efforts to defund and delay it."
Holler specifically cited Democratic Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana – all of whom sided with the administration in thwarting House-passed continuing resolutions that defunded or delayed Obamacare and all of whom face difficult re-election fights next year.
Holler noted that, in the last month, Heritage Action spent "about $400,000 in digital spots in the four states reminding voters of their position," referring to states represented by Hagan, Pryor, Begich, and Landrieu.
Holler added: "There will be more."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax
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