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Tea Party Vows Future Fights as Republicans Assess Damage

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Written by: Michael Tackett

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio may have had little choice in the fight over Obamacare other than showing his unyielding faction of Tea Party members what their strategy would bring, right up to the point of a potential economic calamity, said Mike Murphy, a Republican consultant who has advised several presidential campaigns.

“Republicans in the House, with a little help from Ted Cruz, got all excited with this stupid wing strategy that has now done a lot of damage to our brand,” said Murphy, in a reference to the Texas Republican senator who spurred the confrontation with the White House. “We’ve taken a big blow.”

Republicans used procedural rules to include measures to thwart Obamacare in legislation designed for appropriating funds to pay for government operations. They then used tactics to delay votes to the point that a breach of the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling came into play.

With each move, polls showed, they lost more public support and strengthened President Barack Obama’s resolve in a battle that ended last night with Senate and House passage of legislation to end the shutdown and lift the debt limit.

The lessons Republicans draw from their defeat, starting with how they approach budget talks set to produce an accord by Dec. 13, will set the direction for the party.

Cruz and his supporters criticized the agreement reached to fund the government and raise the borrowing authority as a win for “the Washington establishment.” He described the House Republicans’ defiant stance as “a profile in courage.”

2016 Push

Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation headed by former Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, is saying that the party needs to add to its Tea Party-aligned faction in 2014 as a prelude to the 2016 presidential campaign in order to achieve the goal of repealing Obamacare.

“Everybody understands that we’re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017 and that we have to win the Senate and we have to win the White House,” Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action, said yesterday on Fox News.

As a consequence, there will be more challenges to incumbents in Republican primaries from candidates who share Cruz’s views. In Kansas, Milton Wolf, a 42-year-old Tea Party activist, announced Oct. 10 that he will challenge Senator Pat Roberts and Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran is facing similar threats. They join five other incumbents facing primary fights.

Business Reconsiders

Other groups had different takeaways from the impasse that shut the government down for 16 days. Business leaders are questioning whether the small-government Tea Party elements among Boehner’s members will reshape their own allegiances.

“Most business PACs have assumed that any Republican is generally acceptable on business issues,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations at the Washington-based National Retail Federation. “That’s an assumption we are reconsidering.”

“The current situation is being made more challenging by a handful of Republican candidates in the House. We’re going to look at a handful of races where we might be able to make a difference,” French added.

Senate Republicans said their House colleagues’ strategy of using the funding and debt measures to try to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was flawed from the start. Obama and Senate Democrats refused those conditions from the outset, and had the power to stop it.

‘Fool’s Errand’

Senator John McCain of Arizona called it a “fool’s errand,” yet House members clung to their position even as polls showed 7 in 10 Americans disapproved of it and as their party took on an increasing share of blame for bringing the government to the doorstep of default.

Featured in Read the full article

Written by: Michael Tackett

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