As House Republicans take the first step Friday to fund the government without funding Obamacare, GOP lawmakers spelled out their strategy when the Democratic-controlled Senate refuses to go along, as it surely will.
The Republican-controlled House, they said, will keep passing the original resolution with "everything-but-Obamacare" funding and then send to the Senate separate bills to fund the military and other key programs if the Senate strips out "defunding" language.
"We're willing to do every other program — everything — except Obamacare," Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California told Newsmax. "Nobody is pressing for, or even hoping for, a shutdown. In fact, it's exactly the opposite."
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a leader of the Republican effort, said in conference call with reporters that if there is a shutdown, the public will realize that "Harry Reid and Barack Obama are the only political actors keeping the government shut down."
"If Harry Reid thinks Obamacare is so important that he is willing to shut down the government, then we will be standing firm," Cruz said.
"It will take 60 votes [to pass a Senate resolution with Obamacare funding] and [Utah Republican Sen.] Mike Lee and I will be using any means we can to make sure Republicans stand side-by-side to stop this," Cruz said.
The House is to vote Friday on a stop-gap federal spending bill. It also would deny funding for Obamacare after the chamber passed rules governing debate of the legislation on Thursday by a vote of 230-192.
Cruz and other Republicans on the conference call said the House would keep sending continuing resolutions — without money for Obamacare — to Reid and the Democratic Senate. In addition, they said, they expected smaller continuing resolutions to fund the military and other key programs.
"We will keep giving him the mechanisms to keep government open," Cruz said.
Other Republicans on the conference call did not seem bothered by analogies to the last government shutdown in 1995-96, when the public blamed the Republican-run Congress for the shutdown and Democratic President Bill Clinton emerged a hero when it ended.
While not dealing with those circumstances, Republican Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, who served in the House from 1994-2000 and returned to his old seat last year, recalled that House Republicans "won the fight for welfare reform [in 1996] by standing firm, and not willing to back down.
"President Clinton," Salmon said, "vetoed the welfare-reform measure twice but we stayed firm, sent him almost the same bill a third time, and — Clinton was taking polls all the time — he not only signed it but took credit for it.
"And we won on welfare reform without social media,” Salmon added, noting that he and his colleagues have potent weapons with which to pressure Democratic opponents on the CR through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.
Recalling the 1995 showdown, Cruz pointed out that there were “two partial showdowns in November and later in December.
"During that time, discretionary spending was the only thing affected. The mandatory part continues. The military and the entitlements — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — continued to run. There was a temporary suspension of what was called 'non-essential government services,' and that was unfortunate. But it was not the end of the world," Cruz said.
McClintock repeated his own long-standing opposition to continuing resolutions in general, because "Congress abandons its responsibilities in the appropriations process."
But, he told Newsmax, he is willing to vote for the CR Friday "because it gets rid of Obamacare, the single greatest threat to the economy and to private healthcare in America."
In underscoring the resolute determination of Republicans in Congress to "fund every part of the government except Obamacare, which is forcing many full-time employees to work part-time," Cruz said, "there are good reasons many unions want to get out of Obamacare. It isn't working."
In summarizing the strategy he and his Senate Republican colleagues and counterparts in the House plan to take in the coming weeks, Cruz emphasized that "the next 11 days are not going to be decided by us. They will be decided by the grassroots of America.
"When 1.5 million Americans in the last few weeks signed an online petition known as DontFundIt.com, public opinion is going our way."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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