There have been a lot of stories in the last day about how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has outraged House conservatives by basically telling them them they're on their own to defund Obamacare. Here's the key quote from a statement Cruz issued yesterday:
"[Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so. At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people."
Some House Republicans and staff have responded with outrage, saying Cruz talks a good game but isn't willing to do his part to make sure the government stays closed unless Obamacare is funded.
This has raised hopes that House Republicans have reached their "breaking point" with Cruz and will agree to keep the government open once the Senate does exactly what Cruz predicts: strip defund provisions out of the CR and send it back to the House.
But look who's offering the heated quotes to press about Cruz. It's members of the House who were already on the record against a shutdown, or aides to House leadership, which has never wanted a shutdown.
Here's Rep. Sean Duffy (Wis.) on Wednesday:September 18, 2013
Duffy issued a statement to local news affiliate WSAU on Tuesday saying " I do not believe that forcing a government shutdown is the right tactic."
Rep. Tim Griffin (Ark.):
so far Sen Rs are good at getting Facebook likes, and townhalls, not much else. Do something. . . RT ... http://t.co/fVo2eu2c6a— Tim Griffin (@TimGriffinAR2) September 18, 2013
Griffin told the Arkansas Times last month, " I do not support shutting down the government."
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.):
House Republicans are turning words into action to defund #Obamacare. Ball will be in the Senate’s court.— Tom Price (@RepTomPrice) September 18, 2013
Price has also pushed against the shutdown strategy, saying Republicans should instead seek a one-year delay of Obamacare.
Many of the harshest quotes about Cruz have come from unnamed aides to House leadership:
Wow. House gop leadership aide just told me "Wendy Davis has more balls than Ted Cruz." #gopvsgopugliness— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) September 18, 2013
Of course, these are the Republicans who had the most reason to be mad at Cruz, before and after his statement on Wednesday that it's up to the house to carry the ball on defunding Obamacare.
What we have not seen is rising frustration from the 30 or 40 House Republicans who reputedly will not vote for what Speaker John Boehner really wants: a continuing resolution that funds the government at sequestration levels without addressing Obamacare.
If they're not breaking with Cruz, then we still have the same problem we had three days ago, which is that the only continuing resolutions that can pass the House with the support of 217 Republicans will have to defund Obamacare. Cruz has alienated lots of people, but it's not clear he's alienated the people whose support he most needs.
Of course, Boehner can always keep the government open by letting Nancy Pelosi set the terms of a bill to keep the government open and providing a few Republican votes to create a majority. But if House Republicans weren't willing to do that a week ago, it's not obvious how that changes as a result of Cruz outrage.
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