Barely 24 hours after the Senate rejected its third continuing resolution to fund the federal government and the long-feared shutdown commenced, House Republicans made it clear they were standing firm in their fight to limit the implementation of Obamacare.
On the first day of the shutdown, Republican House members told Newsmax almost universally that it now was up to President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to begin to compromise on the continuing resolution.
In addition, nearly all of the lawmakers who spoke to Newsmax insisted that, after the House took three votes on continuing resolutions in 10 days, their constituents were rallying to their side in the ongoing duel with Senate and White House.
"Our e-mails and calls since the vote last night were running 60-to-40 in favor of our position on Obamacare and the CR," Republican Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana told a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. "And in recent weeks, I've held 12 town-hall meetings and heard from more than 2,500 Hoosiers. Almost all of them are asking us in Congress to take a stand against a very bad law and against big government."
Asked by Newsmax if some Republicans wanted to move back to earlier versions of the CR — such as the version the House approved Sunday, delaying all of Obamacare for a year — Rokita replied: "It isn't the strategy to move off the point we are at now. We've moved a lot in the debate. It's the other side that is being unreasonable, that keeps coming back to us saying, 'No, no, no.'"
Rokita also noted that "the way to get something done is to talk, the way you would to a business partner, a colleague at your publication or TV station, or your spouse. The idea of not talking is unimaginable by a president, and the more the public realizes this, the weaker the obstructionists' hands get."
Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio told Newsmax that "a majority of calls coming from my constituents are telling me to continue the job we're doing and that it's time for the president and Harry Reid to come to the table and start dealing with us on the healthcare issue. They know [Obamacare] is already driving up insurance rates and they want Democrats to come to the table."
But, Johnson said, the same constituents "who tell us, 'We don't want Obamacare' are also saying, 'We don't want a shutdown.' So we need to have an adult conversation with the White House and Senate Democrats."
Johnson voiced his distaste with "robocalls" blitzing his district Tuesday morning "that tell them 'While you were sleeping, Congressman Bill Johnson voted to shut down the government.' So the Democrats were obviously planning this for months and are trying to make it about politics."
Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas told Newsmax that "99 out of 100" calls and e-mails to his office are running in favor of stopping Obamacare.
"That's really impressive when you consider that in our district [east of Houston], we have about 9,000 government employees and their families."
Stockman, who served a term in Congress during the last government shutdown in 1995, said "there is far more desire among House Republicans today to tough it out and stand firm than there was 17 years ago."
Another House Republican who was there for the last shutdown, 11-term Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, saw it differently.
"I will agree that this shutdown is a little different from '95 because of the issue of Obamacare and that we need to stand by the position voted by the House as long as we can," Jones told Newsmax.
"But I also recall that the longer the shutdown dragged on, the more reaction we got. And remember, we had the Senate and the House in 1995. Now we have the House, but are outgunned because [Democrats] have the Senate and the White House."
Jones believes he and his colleagues can win "concessions" from the Senate if there is a short shutdown. But, he added, "we'll have problems if it goes on for, say, three weeks."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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