Updated 4:52 p.m.
The government is headed for shutdown, and according to Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, it’s Senate Democrats—not House Republicans—that have taken the “absolutist” position.
Cruz told David Gregory on Meet the Press that his opposition is modeled after Texas Rep. Phil Graham’s fight against Hillary Clinton’s health care plan. “Rep. Phil Graham said, ‘This will pass over my cold, dead, political body,’ and that got other Republicans to say ‘what he said.’ The power of leadership can change debates,” Cruz said.
After hours of posturing, bluster, and closed-door meetings, the House voted to delay the Affordable Care Act for one year late Saturday night. Republicans took to the morning shows in droves to preemptively lay blame for the disruptions that will come October 1, when some 800,000 federal workers could be furloughed, and countless services will be interrupted.
President Obama met with his chief advisers Sunday afternoon, but officials with the administration said the president would not negotiate over the healthcare bill. The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and Obama has pointed out that he won re-election after signing the law.
There was no indication Sunday that Reid would call Senators back to The Hill to vote on the House bill. The Senate will likely table the bill when it meets Monday at 2 p.m. and return its previous bill—the “clean CR” that would fund the government through mid-December—back to the House.
A small collection of House Republicans gathered on the steps of the Senate Sunday afternoon to criticize Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not calling the Senate back in session in order to vote on the bill. Following Cruz’s lead, the representatives tried to cast blame for a shutdown on Democrats.
“Two branches of this government are controlled by Democrats, and I want to say we need to use the word control and not leadership,” said Rep. Virginia Fox of North Carolina. “There’s a total lack of leadership because leadership would be working together.”
The caucus press conference was cut short when a woman on a bicycle started heckling the representatives, “The people re-elected Barack Obama, they want Obamacare, they’re sick of this!,” she said before cycling away.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican who chairs the House Republican Conference, said Sunday on State of the Union that the House had done its job Saturday, and responsibility now lies with Reid, who has already flatly rejected the House measure.
“They’re the ones playing games,” she told CNN’s Candy Crowley when asked whether she was willing to shut down the government in order to force a “debate” that will not happen, Rogers said, “it’s really up to the Senate.”
Appearing of Face the Nation, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul stuck to the GOP’s main message and also blamed Obama and the Democrats. “The president’s the one saying, ‘I will shut down government if you don’t give me what I want on Obamacare.’”
Uncertainty over a government shutdown comes after a warning from the Treasury Department, that the U.S. will hit its debt limit Oct. 17. Without a deal to raise the limit at that time, the country risks default. That fact was not lost on the Republicans gathered on the Senate steps Sunday, who signaled that the debt limit was also a bargaining chip in the effort to neutralize Obamacare.
Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas cautioned Obama and Reid that, “the debt ceiling is the law as well, and unless you want that shoved in your face, you need to revisit this law.”