Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spent yet another weekend openly mocking congressional Republicans for failing to follow his lead – he wants a government shutdown unless Democrats agree to defund the federal health care system, and the Texas Republican is furious he doesn’t have more establishment allies.
Ordinarily, this is the point at which GOP leaders would intervene, take sides, and take steps to resolve the intra-party fight. But in this case, leading Republicans – House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – have sat on their hands and said nothing, refusing to even state an opinion.
It fell to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to throw some cold water on the shutdown scheme in comments to National Review.
“In order to avoid a government shutdown, we need 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to pass a continuing resolution,” he explained. “To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.”
“Repealing Obamacare remains the goal,” Cantor said, “as is doing everything we can to protect people from its harmful effects here and now, like delaying the mandate for people, not just big business.” But for the moment, connecting government funding to that effort isn’t likely part of his plan.
The language is a little clunky, but Cantor apparently believes there aren’t enough votes for defunding or repealing the Affordable Care Act, so there’s no real point to shutting down the government.
And immediately after Cantor said this, the chairman of the Republican National Committee said largely the opposite.
Greg Sargent flagged Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus making these comments on one of the Sunday shows.
“I think all Republicans are unified on one thing and that is defunding, delaying, getting rid of, eliminating Obamacare. So we have total unanimity on that issue and the question is what are the tactics? And you know, even if you take the position of a Ted Cruz or Mike Lee, basically what they’re saying is we actually are funding 100 percent of the government except for that small percentage of nondiscretionary — excuse me, discretionary funding the Obamacare.
“So Mr. President, if you want to shut the government down because you want to continue to fund this monstrosity that you’ve already admit is half broken, then go ahead.”
So, on Friday, the House Majority Leader says Republicans don’t really intend to shut down the government, and on Sunday, the head of the RNC says if Republicans shut down the government, it’s the White House’s fault for not meeting Republican demands.
It’s a good thing the GOP has its act together, isn’t it?