On Saturday, ThinkProgress spoke to Teresa Collett, a Republican running against Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), at the Mayflower Hotel during lobbyist Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. During the interview, Collett expressed outrage at the health reform bill passed by Congress this year and supported by her opponent.
Collett argued that tactically, even if Republicans take over the House, repealing health reform would be difficult because President Obama could easily veto any repeal effort. However, Collett reasoned that a Republican House of Representatives could defund programs to expand coverage made possible by health reform. She also said that “if the stakes are high enough,” she would support a move to shut down the entire federal government to force a showdown over health reform:
TP: I spoke to several of the delegates here, and some of the speakers, who said — including Newt Gingrich — who said it might come down to a budget battle where the federal government might need to be stopped temporarily to force President Obama to the table. What do you think about that?
COLLETT: I think if the stakes are high enough, we might have to do that. Now that has real consequences to real people in lots of different ways. So, certainly that is not the first best option, but what’s at stake is very important so that decision will have to be made at that time.
Collett’s sentiment about shutting down the federal government echoes a similar argument made by another speaker at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), speaking on Friday, said that Republicans would shut down the federal government — even veterans’ hospitals — to eliminate programs like health reform.
Yesterday on Fox News, Newt Gingrich — the architect of a government shut down confrontation with President Clinton in the ’90s — said that Republicans might shut down the government again next year if they win back control oft he House. Asked by host Chris Wallace if Republicans would adopt such a strategy, Gingrich replied that he doubted whether a Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would be up for the “challenge.” But, Gingrich said, if the “president wants to push it,” a shut down is “possible.”