Quotes of the day

As the partial government shutdown enters its third day, many House Republicans are determined to keep fighting, even though they see no plausible way out of the current impasse, because they’ve come so far they cannot imagine backing down now. “I think there’s a sense that for us to do a clean CR now — then what the hell was this about?” one Republican House member told me. “So I don’t think it’s going to end anytime soon.”…

“I think they’re stepping in it a bit,” said the GOP congressman, clearly relieved that Democrats were taking a turn making mistakes. But as much as the Democratic missteps buoyed Republicans, they didn’t do anything to solve the problem. “They were positive tactical moments that gave some breathing room,” said the strategist. “But there has yet to be a strategic moment that is a clear, outright win.”

“It’s sort of like when you have a temperature and you take an aspirin and your temperature goes down,” the strategist continued. “You still have a problem.”


A coalition of centrist House Republicans is lobbying House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to find ways to end the partial government shutdown, lawmakers in the group said Wednesday…

“We’re looking for ways to break the stalemate and get the government back open as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.) en route to his second meeting of the day with the top House Republican. Mr. Grimm said the group of roughly 16 to 18 “pragmatist” House Republicans is growing in size as lawmakers get increasingly frustrated with the partial government shutdown…

“I want us to be in a majority again in 2014 and I don’t think this is the way to get there,” said Mr. Wolf, who would support a short-term spending bill with no policy riders.


“I’ve been trying to figure this out,” says one House Republican of the current standoff over funding the government. “It seems to me that Boehner could do whatever he wants with Democrats on the floor and still get about 180 or 190 of us. So why doesn’t he do that?”…

If the Speaker did, he would raise the ire of the group of House GOP conservatives most committed to continuing the defund battle. There are various estimates of how many there are in that group — probably about 30 core members, but perhaps 30, or even as many as 50, others who are sympathetic to the core position. Even so, a high estimate is about 80, meaning that even in the worst case scenario for a clean continuing resolution, Boehner would still have around 150 Republican votes to end the impasse. Given Democratic support, that would be more than enough.

But he doesn’t do it. “I think the issue is, he’s scared that those 30 people could somehow force a speaker’s election,” says the House Republican. “I don’t know exactly, but clearly he thinks his speakership is a stake if he screws them.”


Privately, a healthy number of pragmatic Republicans understand that Obamacare is not going to be defunded — or even touched — in the debt ceiling and government-funding negotiations. At this point, the strong stand against funding government is more about standing firm against Democrats than actually stripping money from Obamacare.

Obama isn’t running for office again, and few Republicans think Boehner will remain in the top post for much longer. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) — who has longed for a rewrite of the Tax Code — is nearing the end of his chairmanship. Ryan — who some see as the speaker-in-waiting — is desperate for a budget agreement.

So with the government shut down and the debt ceiling rapidly approaching in the next two weeks, a large number of Republicans see a grand deficit compromise as the only plausible way out.


Robert Costa: Ever since Plan B failed on the fiscal cliff in January and you saw Boehner in near tears in front of his conference, he’s been crippled. He’s been facing the consequences of that throughout the year. Everything from [the Violence Against Women Act] to the farm bill to the shutdown. The Boehner coup was unsuccessful but there were two dozen members talking about getting rid of him. That’s enough to cause problems. Boehner’s got the veterans and the committee chairs behind him, but the class of 2010 and 2012 doesn’t have much allegiance to him…

RC: What we’re seeing is the collapse of institutional Republican power. It’s not so much about Boehner. It’s things like the end of earmarks. They move away from Tom DeLay and they think they’re improving the House, but now they have nothing to offer their members. The outside groups don’t always move votes directly but they create an atmosphere of fear among the members. And so many of these members now live in the conservative world of talk radio and tea party conventions and Fox News invitations. And so the conservative strategy of the moment, no matter how unrealistic it might be, catches fire. The members begin to believe they can achieve things in divided government that most objective observers would believe is impossible. Leaders are dealing with these expectations that wouldn’t exist in a normal environment.


Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it…

“It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn’t have a strategy – he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was,” said one senator who attended the meeting. “I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch.”…

At the Wednesday lunch, Cruz was asked what he would have done had GOP senators united to filibuster the House bill.

“He kept trying to change the subject because he never could answer the question,” the senator said. “It’s pretty evident it’s never been about a strategy – it’s been about him. That’s unfortunate. I think he’s done our country a major disservice. I think he’s done Republicans a major disservice.”


Coburn also told McConnell that he had allowed the situation to spin out of control.

“He said to McConnell, ‘This has happened because there’s a leadership vacuum,’” the Republican source said…

Another Republican senator told The Hill that McConnell has paid too much deference to Lee and Cruz.

“What gets me is he’ll look at 46 [Republican] senators and say, ‘What do Mike and Ted want to do?’ What are we, chopped liver?” the lawmaker said.


It is unlikely that the gilded power brokers in the Republican Party are likely to join their local county political club any time soon, but as the stock market wobbles amid the government shutdown and the continued demand for an Obamacare delay, a number of GOP donors are wondering if it is time for a little outside counter-pressure to sap the Tea Party of some of its energy. To be clear, none are considering joining the Democrats, and they find plenty of fault with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The deficit, taxes, and regulation remain top concerns. But several top GOP donors say figuring out a way to “break the fever”—as Obama once put it—or at least keep their fellow party members from damaging the economy any further has become Topic A in their social set…

Zeidman pointed to the way the Republicans handled Syria, which, he said, “allowed the administration to fall on their own sword.” He contrasted that with the negotiations around the budget, which he said have overshadowed what should be a winning issue for the GOP, Obamacare.

“The Tea Party is not looking at the big picture,” he said. “In the long run it will have deleterious effects on the whole party when we could have taken the high road. There is so much going on right now with Obamacare, and no one is saying a word about it.”

“I am not writing a check to anyone,” he added. “That is not working for the American people.”


According to Bob Corker — at least I assume it is Corker given the similar language to statements Corker has made publicly — Cruz has no strategy.

Here is what no strategy looks like:

Get the American public excited enough to pressure the GOP into forcing the issue.
Filibuster for 21 hours to direct even more attention to Obamacare.
See a sharp turn in polling against Obamacare.
Watch the government shut down.
Suggest the House of Representatives pass a bunch of funding resolutions for various parts of government.
Have the House of Representatives do exactly that.
Watch Harry Reid and Barack Obama implode before the press handling this.

Now, here is Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, and Mitch McConnell’s strategy to stop Obamacare:

Some strategy that is.


This is it. Our endgame is to leave the whole thing shut down until the President defunds Obamacare. And if he does not defund Obamacare, we leave the whole thing shut down.

After all, if the government is not spending any money, when we collide with the debt ceiling in two weeks, we should not have to worry since the government is spending so little money.

This shutdown is about Obamacare. Congressmen, do not take your eyes off the ball. This is not about a grand bargain to restructure the tax code, reform entitlements, or raise revenue…

Congressmen, do not underestimate our desire to toss you out of office if you betray us. We are learning a lot more about government and it confirms just how wasteful it is. But this is a fight about Obamacare. Do not confuse why you are fighting.

Hold the line. Undermine Obamacare. Shut it down.


The California Republican said a small group of lawmakers, what he calls “the lemming caucus,” have been blocking GOP House leadership for three years.

“It’s guys who meet privately. They’re always conspiring. It’s mostly just about power. And it’s just gotten us nowhere,” said Nunes.


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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023