Republicans talk shutdown on Sunday shows: Their verdict? Little was gained.


The Capitol is seen in the distance Tuesday as American flags fly on the Mall around the base of the Washington Monumen. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
October 20, 2013

Republican leaders said Sunday that in the next round of budget talks they will not resort to the tactics that resulted in a 16-day shutdown in government operations and the threat of default on the federal debt.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised that his party would not allow another closure, saying that outcome would not align with Republican principles.

“Shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy,” McConnell said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy. A number of us were saying back in July that this strategy could not and would not work, and of course it didn’t. So there will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), however, doubled down on President Obama’s health-care law.

“I would do anything and I will continue to do anything I can to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Cruz said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Cruz, a central figure in the GOP push to tie the health law to budget talks, blamed members of his party for failing to win concessions, suggesting that Republican lawmakers should have united around his message.

“I think it was unfortunate that you saw multiple members of the Senate Republicans going on television attacking House conservatives, attacking the effort to defund Obamacare, saying it cannot win, it’s a fool’s errand, we will lose, this must fail,” Cruz said. “That is a recipe for losing the fight, and it’s a shame.”

But leaders from both parties largely said Sunday that government shutdowns and the threat of default will not help GOP lawmakers achieve their goals.

“What we should have learned in the last couple of weeks is, if you’re in a divided government and you’re arguing against the law, you’re disadvantaged,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) described the shutdown as a “wake-up call” for Republicans during an interview on “Face the Nation.”

“The tactic of defunding the government unless he repealed his signature issue was as poorly designed as ‘Obamacare’ itself,” Graham said.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the shutdown standoff did not end well for his party. He said the health-care law will probably fail on its own without Republicans threatening government closures and default.

“It might actually be politically a better approach to see the massive dysfunction, but we don’t even hear about that, because we’ve stepped on that message,” Bush said during an interview on “This Week.” “Republicans just need to take a step back and show self-restraint and let this happen a little more organically.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applauded her fellow Democrats for standing firm during a period of brinkmanship.

“I join the American people in their disgust at what happened in terms of the shutdown of government,” she said on “This Week.” “That’s an unthinkable tactic to use in the political debate. But I will say that I’m very proud of my House Democrats and the Senate Democrats, as well.”

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the shutdown has taken a toll on the government and the economy.

“I can’t give you a number today of what it is — I know the direction,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “The direction is, it took an economy that is fighting hard to get good economic growth going to create jobs for the American people, and it took it in the wrong direction. Our job in Washington is to move things in the right direction.”

Ratings agencies including Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Analytics have estimated that the shutdown cost the economy at least $23 billion in projected growth.

McConnell said that during future budget talks he will insist on reducing the nation’s deficits without raising taxes. He suggested that the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, which are set to continue for nine more years, have given his party leverage for the upcoming negotiations.

The government-wide spending reductions, which started to take effect in March as a result of the Budget Control Act, trimmed spending by $85 billion during the past fiscal year. They will continue with deeper cuts unless Congress and the White House agree to an alternative deficit-reduction plan.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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