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The List Keeps Growing: Reasonable Republicans Push Back On Shutdown Over Obamacare

Sep 24, 2013


 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): "And I think next week is a time for party unity. I think next week, all Senate Republicans, I hope, should come together and support the House bill." [Fox News Sunday, 9/22/13]


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL):  "I am one of those who says, let's not shut down the government just because you don't get everything you want," Kirk said in an interview. "That is an overwriting of our mandate." [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9/23/13]

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): "We would be telling people that we're defunding Obamacare when we really aren't - so little of it is contained in annual appropriations," said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has strong credentials on the right. "We're held in low-enough regard without telling people we're doing something when we really aren't." [Washington Post, 9/21/13]

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): "I know when you get led into a box canyon what that means," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), evoking imagery of an infamous method by which buffalo were slaughtered in the Old West. "Box canyon, here we come." [Washington Post, 9/21/13]

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME): "At the same time, I think it is a huge mistake to link the defunding of Obamacare to a government shutdown," Collins said. "We have an obligation to govern in Washington, and it would create chaos if government were to shut down," she added, citing the government shutdowns of the mid-1990s." [Bangor Daily News, 9/20/13]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Friday that he opposes shutting down the government over defunding Obamacare. "I know that some people are discussing filibusters, but I actually think we're at the point now where we can't shut down the government. It's like burning down the house to get rid of the mice or rats," said Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate. "I don't think very many think that a government shutdown is in the best interests of the economy and will actually accomplish the goal that's set out," said Cornyn. [Austin American-Statesman, 9/20/13]

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID): "There isn't anybody that thinks that Obamacare is going to get defunded. It cannot happen," said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho). "It is as impossible as anything can possibly be in Washington, D.C." Asked if he were prepared to see the government shutdown over the matter, Risch said: "We were elected to govern - you don't govern by shutting down the government." [Politico, 9/20/13]

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): "There is some resistance among Republicans in the Senate on the House GOP plan. "I'm not in the shut-down-the-government crowd, I'm in the take-over-the-government crowd," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Alexander said the policy goal of dismantling the law among Republicans is the same, but the tactics are different. He said he believes Republicans should focus on making the case to the electorate ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections. "Only when we elect more (Republicans) senators can we actually change Obamacare," he said. [USA Today, 9/19/13]

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): "I said it was the dumbest idea I'd ever heard of," Burr said. "I still think it's a dumb idea, because you can't defund Obamacare." [Huffington Post, 9/18/13]

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): "I think we should make every effort we can to make sure we stop this law but I don't believe they should shut down the government to do so, and I don't think that is a strategy that is good for America." [CNN, 9/18/13]

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): "My personal belief is the only way to get rid of Obamacare is to be intelligent and smart about it and gradually just work on it, work it through," said Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over health care. "But to expect the government to shut down is not the way to do it." [Politico, 9/17/13]

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):  "Many Republican senators who made their opposition to Obamacare explicit cautioned against a government shutdown, arguing it would not stop the health law and could have dire political [sic] ramifcations [sic]. 'It is a suicide note,' said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. 'I was here the last time we saw this movie.'" [National Journal, 9/12/13]

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): Isakson said in an interview Tuesday that risking a shutdown is unwise, particularly considering that most of the health-law money is considered mandatory and not covered by any continuing resolution. So if the attack succeeds, it still would not kill the law. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/3/13]

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR): Sen. John Boozman is one of the critics of the defunding push, warning that the shutdown that would result from such a standoff would harm an already fragile economy. Boozman unseated Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in 2010 after repeatedly criticizing her vote for the 2010 law. "I don't think this is the battlefield where it needs to be fought," Boozman said. [AP, 9/1/13]

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN): "Here's the hard truth: President Obama will not overturn his signature legislation so long as he is president and the Democrats have control of the Senate. Along with these political realities, refusing to pass legislation to keep the government funded will not stop Obamacare from going into effect." [Press Release, 8/23/13]

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): "I'm totally in favor of the goal, but this vehicle isn't going to achieve it," Toomey said after meeting with the Inquirer Editorial Board. "That's not a tactic that's going to get us the outcome we want." [Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/21/13]

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): "I do think we need to figure out a way to keep the government operating. I do think we need to deal with the underlying problem of overspending and we have to deal with the problem of Obamacare, but those ought to be handled outside of the context of a government shutdown." [Dayton Daily News, 8/16/13]

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): "So I appreciate the fact that they've raised the issue. But defunding Obamacare, with President Obama in the White House and Harry Reid in the Senate, I think is next to impossible." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/13/13]

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): The Democratic-controlled Senate won't pass a defunding measure, Sessions argued, and the Democratic president would veto it anyway. 'You end up in a government shutdown,' he said. 'There's no way to avoid this.'" [Washington Examiner, 8/8/13]

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE): "Republican Sen. Mike Johanns thinks his colleague Ted Cruz of Texas has 'picked the wrong vehicle' -- shutting down government operations after Sept. 30 -- to stop the law that has become known as Obamacare. 'It simply isn't going to happen,' Johanns told a crowd of about 50 people during a townhall meeting Wednesday dominated by discussion over this fall's implementation of the new health care law and overall government spending." [The Columbus Telegram, 8/8/13]

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA): "So I appreciate Senator Cruz's passion, his intent to want to defund Obamacare. I'd love to do it too. But shutting down the government and playing into the hands of the president politically is not the right thing to do. Plus, it's going to do great harm to the American people if we pursue that course. We've been there. It didn't work." [NBC Meet the Press, 8/4/13]

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK): "It's not an achievable strategy. It's creating the false impression that you can do something when you can't. And it's dishonest." [Washington Examiner, 7/26/13]

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): "No, I don't support that." [Washington Post, 7/24/13]  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):  Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he and some of his colleagues do not want to tie Obamacare repeal efforts to the budget process. "How do you fund the military?" he said in a brief interview. [Washington Times, 7/24/13]

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL):  Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) also chimed in on the matter, telling reporters on Capitol Hill "it's foolish" not to fund the government. [Huffington Post, 7/25/13]