Government shutdown: how the GOP descended into civil war

The GOP wants to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1 by passing a temporary government funding bill that would not include any money for Mr. Obama's health-care reform law. Here is a comprehensive primer on how we got here and who's involved.

5. WWSRD? (What will Senate Republicans Do?)

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas greets attendees as he arrives to speak at the Tea Party Patriots' 'Exempt America from Obamacare' rally on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 10.

To be clear, there has been  permanent civil war between the House and Senate virtually since the founding of Congress in 1789, even and especially between leaders of the same party. House members typically refer to the Senate as the place where good bills go to die.

That’s why the singular praise for Senator Cruz among some House Republicans marks a break with tradition. But many House Republicans took strong exception to a statement issued by Cruz after Wednesday’s announcement of a showdown over Obamacare.

Cruz called the move, “terrific news.” “Just a few weeks ago, this was deemed impossible,” he said.

But instead of pledging a big fight in the Senate to validate that strategy, Cruz appeared to draw back. “Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” he said. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.

The remark set off a firestorm among GOP conservatives, many speaking anonymously.

Two-term Rep. Tim Griffin (R) of Arkansas tweeted: “So far Sen Rs are good at getting Facebook likes,and townhalls, not much else. Do something.”

Rep. Sean Duffy (R) of Wisconsin, another member of the 2010 class, shot back in a tweet: “House agrees to send #CR to Senate that defunds Obamacare. @SenTedCruz & @ SenMikeLee refuse to fight. Wave white flag and surrender.”

Asked about this statement at Thursday’s briefing, Boehner said: “I expect my Senate colleagues to do everything they can to defund this law, just like the House is going to do.”

Wednesday evening on Fox News's "Hannity," Cruz addressed the charge directly. “Mike and I will fight with every breath in our body to stop the biggest job killer in America,” Cruz said.

In a press briefing on Thursday, he also pledged to filibuster CR legislation that does not include the House defunding measure.

“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” including a filibuster, Cruz said at a press briefing on Thursday.

But it may not be enough to move the Senate, where even many Republicans doubt that using a government shutdown to leverage defunding Obamacare will work.

“I didn’t go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count – the defunding box canyon is a tactic that will fail and weaken our position,” tweeted Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee.

5 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.