Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Sunday that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to shut down the government over the funding of Obamacare, but that he is hoping his party does it anyway.
Paul has been one of the leading people calling on Congress to block a resolution that would fund the government unless money for Obamacare is not included in the bill. He was one of the fifteen senators to sign onto a letter vowing to block funding the health care law. But on Sunday, Paul told Fox News Sunday that, “I don’t think shutting down the government is a good idea.”
Still, Paul went on, “I do think that we were elected, conservatives were elected, to try to stop this overreach, this government takeover of healthcare,” and so “we should use the leverage of controlling one-third of the government… to at the very least make that law less bad, delay it, do something we can to protect the American public from the law.”
Acknowledging that support for a shutdown isn’t broad enough in the Senate, Paul said that his colleagues in the House of Representatives should instead be the ones to make defunding the health law a priority: “We don’t control all of the government, but Republicans control the House of Representatives, they should stand up, use that power to at the very least make that law less bad, delay it, do something we can to protect the American public from the law,” Paul said. If the Republicans in the House try to defund the law, the two chambers of Congress could conference on a bill that may defund some parts of Obamacare. The House of Representatives has voted 40 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but have never been successful, and Republicans have not presented an alternative bill.
Paul’s more tentative language indicates that, like the leadership of his party, he is trying to seem reasonable about what could be a devastating shutdown, while still playing to his base that supports repealing the law. Putting the onus onto the lower chamber to cause shutdown chaos allows Paul to escape some of the political damage that might come from it. A shutdown could potentially furlough 800,000 government employees, and cause chaos for public services around the country.