Ironically, the issue at the core of the dispute, implementation of key parts of “Obamacare,” will begin Tuesday on schedule, shutdown or no.
Among Republicans, some said the revised legislation did not go far enough in seeking to delay a law that all members of the party oppose and want to see eradicated.
Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia said it felt as if Republicans were retreating, and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said there was not unanimity when the rank and file met to discuss a next move.
For the first time since the showdown began more than a week ago, there was also public dissent from the Republican strategy that has been carried out at the insistence of tea party-aligned lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone legislation that would keep the government running and contained no health care-related provisions. “I would be supportive of it, and I believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point,” the fifth-term congressman said.
Dent added he has been urging the Republican leadership to allow a vote along those lines.
A second Republican, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, said, “We haven’t given up on Obamacare … but for this week we may have to give up. We tried everything and Harry Reid won’t budge,” he said of the Senate majority leader.
Other Republicans sought to blame Democrats for any shutdown, but Dent conceded that Republicans would bear the blame, whether or not they deserved it.
The last time the government shutdown, in 1996, Republicans suffered significant political damage, and then-President Bill Clinton’s political fortunes were revived in the process.
Now, as then, Republicans control the House, and senior lawmakers insist even a shutdown isn’t likely to threaten their majority in the 2014 elections. “We may even gain seats,” Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the party campaign committee, said recently.
For all the controversy about other matters, the legislation in question is a spending bill — and there was little if any disagreement about the spending-related issues.
The House and Senate have agreed to fix spending for a wide swath of federal programs at an annual level of $986 billion.
Without separate legislation to make further reductions, across-the-board cuts would automatically take effect early next year that would reduce the level to $967 billion.