Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Leaders Face Revolt Within Ranks on CR

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that it won’t be easy to pass the three-week continuing resolution, but he predicted that ultimately the measure would pass.

“With the federal government facing record deficits and a mammoth debt hanging over our economy and our future, we must do more than cut spending in bite-sized pieces,” the Ohio lawmaker said.

Rep. Jeff Flake, who voted against the House’s full-year CR for not cutting enough spending, also said he would vote against the short-term deal. “How are we ever supposed to tackle the grave fiscal challenges before us like the debt ceiling, the debt, and the FY2012 budget when we just keep punting on FY2011 spending?” the Arizona Republican said in a statement.

And GOP Reps. Steve King (Iowa) and Michele Bachmann (Minn.) are separately trying to rally opposition because it does not include a rider defunding Obama’s health care overhaul.

But the push for a shutdown showdown isn’t sitting well with some freshmen.

Freshman Rep. Michael Grimm on Monday slammed tea party activists and the “extreme wing of the Republican Party” for mounting opposition to the stopgap bill.

In a statement released by his office, the New York Republican argued that demanding ideological purity is “not looking at the big picture, and the last thing we want to do is become like [Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi in the last Congress, where it was ‘my way or the highway.’”

Grimm’s statement comes just two months after he joined a handful of tea-party-inspired freshmen and Bachmann at a press event following a constitutional lecture by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

On Monday, Grimm pulled no punches.

“If we’re going to do what we set out to do, we have to set realistic expectations, and cannot bow to the extreme right or left. Those views don’t represent what’s best for our country and they certainly do not represent the views of the majority of my district,” he said in the statement.

House Republican leaders downplayed the rift within their ranks Monday, arguing that it has been created by frustration with the fact that Senate Democrats had not yet passed their own bill.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said conservatives have a right to be frustrated.

“We hope that this will be the last time,” the Virginia Republican said. “There is a lot of frustration about the inability of this place to produce results. We have, time and again, seen the Senate unable to put a bill on the floor that can garner the 60 votes.”

A GOP leadership aide echoed Cantor’s comments, arguing that, “Our guys want to make sure that there is some sort of good faith commitment that this isn’t actually the strategy long term and that they’re going to come to the table and negotiate with us.”

The aide also said that even with some conservative defections, it shouldn’t be a problem for Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to muster the votes needed to pass the bill.

“In the end, I don’t think so. But like any significant vote, there’s a conversation that has to happen,” the aide said.

Democrats, meanwhile, worried that the day’s developments significantly increased the chances of a government shutdown sooner or later, but they contended that what they consider to be overreach by conservatives would pin the blame on Republicans.

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