Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. joins Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, following a Republican strategy session. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The GOP push to hold government funding hostage to gutting Obamacare appears to be losing steam in Congress as a growing chorus of Republicans and conservative writers are coming out of the woodwork to urge hardliners within their party to be realistic.
“I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday. “Listen, as long as Barack Obama is president, the Affordable Care Act is going to be law.”
Republicans in the House and Senate are working to corner colleagues into withholding support for keeping government open after the lights go out on Sept. 30 unless Obamacare is defunded. And a growing number of pragmatic conservatives — in and out of Congress — recognize that’s a suicide mission that threatens the GOP’s credibility as well as its electoral prospects ahead of a promising midterm election.
In recent days, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a deputy majority whip, has derided the conservative effort as a “temper tantrum” and compared it to “blackmail.” Appearing Wednesday evening on Fox News, he warned that “it is the sort of thing that creates a backlash and could cost the Republicans the majority in the House.”
Meanwhile, two well-read conservative writers — Byron York of the Washington Examiner and Ramesh Ponnuru, a columnist for Bloomberg View — put the kibosh on this plan Friday.
In an article titled “No, the GOP is not going to defund Obamacare,” York reports that Republicans privately admit they’re embarking on a fool’s errand but have to show conservatives they’re sparing no effort to fight Obamacare.