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Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been awfully quiet about an ongoing effort in his party to force a government shutdown unless Obamacare is defunded. But the Senate Minority Leader finally broke his silence on Tuesday, telling the audience at a Kentucky health care forum that “shutting down the government will not stop Obamacare.”
While McConnell reaffirmed his ardent opposition to the health law, he acknowledged that cutting off government funding “will not stop” the law from going into effect.
Tea Party favorites such as Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and McConnell’s fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) have been trying to convince their party to stop funding the government in order to block the health reform law. McConnell is the latest and highest-profile Republican official to seemingly come out against this strategy.
Many GOP lawmakers and state executives have dismissed the tactic from the get-go. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) went so far as to call it “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) condemned it as “the political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum” and accused Senate Republicans of committing “blackmail.”
President Obama pointed out last week that the GOP line of “repeal or bust” is rarely accompanied by feasible alternatives to the health law. Now, many Republican strategists who worry that shutting down the government would be a political disaster for the GOP — and even prominent media conservatives are warning that Republicans risk electoral retaliation if they don’t supplement their anti-Obamacare rhetoric with an actual agenda.
Indeed, the members of Congress hosting town halls during the legislative August recess have been getting an earful on the issue. House members like Reps. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Jeff Fortbenberry (R-NE) have been forced to explain to furious constituents demanding a shutdown over Obamacare why that would be a bad idea that impedes funding for crucial government services and harms the economy.