Conflicting signals come from GOP on another shutdown

New York TimesOctober 20, 2013 

Sen. Mitch McConnell speaks Sunday on “Face the Nation.”


After the spending deal last week that reopened the federal government through early 2014, Republicans tried to ease concerns Sunday about the possibility of another shutdown in just a few months.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the chamber’s top Republican who helped broker the agreement, said that although he disliked the new health care law – the sticking point in the latest impasse – there was no use in Republicans’ trying to roll it back while Democrats control the Senate and the presidency.

“There will not be another government shutdown,” he said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” “You can count on that.”

But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was criticized by many in his own party for prolonging the gridlock, called last week’s budget agreement “terrible” and did not rule out another shutdown.

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Republicans backed away from their push to defund President Barack Obama’s health care law on Wednesday, agreeing to a deal to reopen and finance the government through Jan. 15 and allow the government to continue borrowing money through Feb. 7.

Illuminating the divisions within the Republican Party, Cruz blamed his fellow Senate Republicans for the defeat. On the CNN program “State of the Union,” he said they could have succeeded if they had united behind their counterparts in the House and called out the Democrats for their unwillingness to compromise.

“What we did have is we had half the Republican conference on TV, not making that point, but instead making President Obama and the Democrats’ point, attacking the House Republicans, attacking those of us trying to stop Obamacare,” Cruz said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for civility within his party, apologizing for calling Cruz and other tea party conservatives “wacko birds.”

But McCain rejected the notion that Cruz could cause a second shutdown in January.

“I think that he can exercise his rights as a senator, but it will not happen,” he said. “The American people will not stand for another one of these things.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew emphasized the risk of continuing gridlock, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that economic growth took a hit during the 16-day shutdown as the nation approached its borrowing limit.

“We need to make sure that government does not go through another round of brinksmanship,” he said. “This can never happen again.”

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