GOP moderates vow to speak louder

While there doesn’t appear to be an organized strategy among the handful of moderates still in the GOP-led House, they say they’ll speak with a much louder — and cohesive — voice in the next round of budget wars. The moderates want to avoid a repeat of the shutdown, but it’s unclear whether they’ll have sufficient clout to counterbalance their more conservative colleagues, who spoke with one powerful voice when it came to the shutdown.

“I can assure you that the next time around, people are going to have their eyes wide open,” said Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, who represents a moderate district in eastern Pennsylvania. “I believe there will be a lot of folks speaking up. Aggressively, in fact.”

New York Rep. Peter King, Ted Cruz’s chief GOP antagonist on Capitol Hill, said congressional Republicans need to specifically target the freshman senator — who has not ruled out another government shutdown in his continuing crusade against the president’s health care law.

In an interview, the never-subtle King suggested several messages that Republicans could use to counterbalance Cruz: “Ted Cruz cost the economy $24 billion” and “Ted Cruz forced the Republican Party to its lowest levels ever and in that period, made Obamacare more popular.”