September 30, 2013

Showdown on government shutdown arrives

By Lori Montgomery and David A. Fahrenthold / The Washington Post

(Continued from page 1)

Another advantage: It would throw a bone to right-wing groups that have declared the long-standing employer subsidies a "special exemption" now that lawmakers are required to enter the new health-insurance exchanges.

Still, many rank-and-file Republicans -- especially those who are not wealthy, are not married to working spouses with insurance or are caring for sick children -- are opposed to this option. Senior GOP lawmakers and aides in several House leadership offices said the House is not likely to pursue it.

Forgetting about the add-ons -- putting the Senate government funding bill on the floor and letting it pass with a combination of Democratic and Republican votes. This probably would have been easier two weeks ago. But after all the drama over defunding Obamacare, it is not clear House leaders could muster two dozen votes to help the chamber's 200 Democrats pass the measure -- at least not until conservatives have felt the pain of a government shutdown.

As Republican leaders mulled the possibilities, others in the GOP began bracing for the political fallout. A recent CBS News-New York Times poll found that 44 percent of the public would blame Republicans and 35 percent would blame Obama and the Democrats for a shutdown. Sixteen percent would blame both parties equally.

"Look, I don't want a government shutdown," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has led the charge to use the threat of a shutdown to dismantle the health law. "I don't think Harry Reid should shut down the government," Cruz said on NBC's "Meet the Press," implying that a shutdown would be entirely Reid's decision.

About a quarter of the public supports the idea of shutting down the government to defund Obamacare. But more than half of conservative Republicans support it, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. For lawmakers in deep-red districts, that is the slice of public opinion that matters.

On Sunday, Republicans tended to argue that they were trying to compromise with Obama and the Democrats to avoid a shutdown while pursuing conservative principles.

"I have said all along it is not a good idea to shut down government," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on "Face the Nation." "But I also think that it is not a good idea to give the president 100 percent of what he wants on Obamacare."

When host Bob Schieffer noted that Obamacare is already the law, Paul said that is why Republicans are offering a "new compromise."

Instead of "getting rid of his signature achievement," Paul said, Republicans want merely to delay it "to make sure that it doesn't totally destroy the insurance market in our country."About a quarter of the public supports the idea of shutting down the government to defund Obamacare. But more than half of conservative Republicans support it, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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