WASHINGTON -- House Republicans emerged with a new strategy to reopen the most popular parts of government that have been shut down by the standoff in Congress, starting with votes Tuesday to fund veterans services and possibly the national parks.
The proposal from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team picks up on the idea that had been floated in recent days by tea party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has led the GOP’s strategy in the congressional standoff that resulted in the first shutdown of the federal government since the Clinton administration.
Democratic leadership aides appeared uninterested in the latest move. But Boehner’s conservative flank emerged from the private meeting energized with this next phase of the fight -- even though it drops Republicans’ demands to stop President Obama’s healthcare law, which had been the party’s goal in the budget battle until the healthcare exchanges opened Tuesday.
“We’re going to start picking off those priorities that are important,” said Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), as lawmakers prepared to vote to reopen the national parks and services for veterans. “The IRS was last on the list. The EPA was right above it.”
The House was expected to vote Tuesday evening under a process that would require a super-majority for passage, pressuring House Democrats to join them.
“If the Democrats are really concerned about funding the VA, let’s fund it,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).
Democrats in the Senate have easily rejected the House GOP attempts to stop Obamacare, but it is uncertain if they can block this latest strategy from Republicans as public pressure to reopen government is expected to grow.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has made it clear he has little interest in negotiating with the House Republicans he now calls “anarchists” until they approve legislation to fund the government. The Senate earlier Tuesday rejected a House request to begin a conference committee to resolve the parties’ differences over the Affordable Care Act.
Leadership aides suggested this new GOP approach would face a similar fate.
Tuesday was the first day of the government shutdown that began at midnight after Congress failed to reach a comprise law in time to fund federal agencies into the new fiscal year after Democrats refused Republican demands to stop the healthcare law.