The rift dividing congressional Republicans over defunding Obamacare as part of a government spending bill is getting bigger by the day.
Several GOPers are hitting back at a warring faction of the Tea Party—spearheaded by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas—insisting that their no-money-without-defunding-Obamacare stance is irresponsible. Lee has argued that this would be the “last opportunity” to stop Obamacare and Cruz has said his fellow Republicans should “stand up and act like they’re conservative.”
The plan could well result in a government shutdown, but several of these conservatives don’t seem to care. And that has other Republicans angry.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma recently told msnbc that the Tea Partiers are employing a “strategy that will deliver nothing other than pain, and not be successful.” He added that “nobody disagrees with the goal, they just disagree with the tactics.”
Republican governors too expressed concerns about trying to tie the health care law to funding the government in September. Others have argued that if a shutdown takes place it will hurt Republicans, and Democrats will benefit in 2015.
At the National Governors Association in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said there could be economic blowback. “I think there are other ways to pursue this,” he said, according to the New York Times.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota said all lawmakers would be blamed if a shutdown ensued. “I don’t see what it accomplishes.” And Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, according to The Times, asked “How much blood are we going to leave on the floor over this?”
Congress is currently on vacation, but the issue will become a hot one in September as lawmakers will be tasked with passing a resolution to keep the government running after Sept. 30. Thirteen GOP senators have signed an online pledge by the Senate Conservative Funds to repeal the health care law and oppose any bills that provides funding to implement any part of it.
Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House on Friday voted 232-185 to repeal Obamacare—the 40th such attempt to repeal, defund or cripple the president’s health care law. These attempts have no chance of passing the Senate or being approved by President Obama.
Of course, this is hardly the only issue dividing Republicans. On everything from same-sex marriage, to immigration reform, to foreign policy, today’s Grand Old Party seems to be an uncomfortable coalition of political factions with ideas that are often fiercely incompatible.