The 5 top Republicans open to shutting down government to get their way

"The federal government will hit its credit limit in roughly two months," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said last week. "The federal government will hit its credit limit in roughly two months," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said last week. David J. Phillip/AP

The fiscal-cliff deal wasn’t great for Republican priorities, but some in the party say that a government shutdown could help them get their way.

In last week’s compromise, many Republicans were forced to agree to a tax hike on wealthy Americans -- albeit at a threshold higher than President Obama preferred--and few of the spending cuts and entitlement reforms they have long been calling for. But several key GOP figures are explicitly or tacitly open to a government shutdown to achieve those goals.

Over the next few months, lawmakers will battle over three important issues: raising the nation’s debt limit; funding the government; and avoiding broad, automatic spending cuts - -also known as sequestration. Failing to continue funding the government would lead to a shutdown, at least partially. And while choosing not to raise the debt limit wouldn’t quite represent a shutdown, some key Republicans still back the idea as leverage.

Here’s what they have to say:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Sunday's Meet the Press:
What’s important about the top Republican senator’s appearance on  NBC’s Meet the Press wasn’t what he said but what he wouldn’t say. After a back and forth with host David Gregory on whether he would rule using a shutdown as leverage, McConnell had only this to say: “As the leader of the Republicans, what I'm telling you is we elected the president to be president. It's time for him to step up to the plate and lead us in the direction of reducing our excessive spending.” In other words, he wouldn’t rule it out.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in a Jan. 4 op-ed in the Houston Chronicle:
“The coming deadlines will be the next flash points in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well-being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy, and Spain. President Obama needs to take note of this reality and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a Jan. 3 Dallas Morning News interview:
"He laughed, literally, at President Obama’s recent suggestion that there won’t be a debate over whether to raise the government’s debt limit and openly called it a good idea to force a partial federal shutdown to cut the flow of red ink. 'The federal government will hit its credit limit in roughly two months, and Obama argues that default to any degree is unthinkable, especially because it entails spending that Congress has already authorized.

“ 'I’m sure he would like not to discuss it,’ Cruz said. But he said a partial government shutdown would be useful, arguing that the one in 1995 set the table for ‘the greatest degree of fiscal responsibility we have seen from Congress in modern times.’ ”

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Jan. 2:

“We Republicans need to be willing to tolerate a temporary, partial government shutdown. We absolutely have to have this fight over the debt limit.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on Sunday’s Meet the Press:
Although he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week that using the debt limit as leverage is a “dead loser,” Gingrich is open to using the other two fights. Here’s what he said on Sunday:

“[Republicans] have two vehicles. They have a continuing resolution, which is at the end of March, and they have the sequester bill.

"Now, these are legitimate government spending bills. The debt ceiling is different because it triggers all of these international financial problems and triggers the credit of the United States. They don't have to say, 'We're going to be wimps.' I've helped closed the government twice. It actually worked. Bill Clinton came in and said, 'The era of big government's over,' after two closings. Not before."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.