Republicans are finding droves of constituents back home at town halls who support a plan to defund the president's Affordable Care Act. However, Republican leaders are scrambling to negotiate a less confrontational solution back on Capitol Hill.
In a conference call with members of the GOP caucus Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attempted to talk some members off the government shutdown ledge.
A coalition of Republican senators, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, originated the plan to defund "Obamacare" by holding the stopgap measure to fund the government through the end of the year hostage. And the plan has attracted an even broader band of House Republicans, 80 in all, who see the latest attempt as the best chance to stop the president's health care plan from coming to fruition.
Republican leaders, however, acknowledge the strategy could cost Republicans in the polls and ultimately at the ballot box in 2014.
David Winston, a GOP pollster, released a survey Wednesday revealing that 53 percent of Republicans were actually opposed to a plan to defund the president's health care law if it meant risking a government shutdown.
Thursday night, Boehner advocated instead that Republicans work with Democrats to pass a short-term continuing resolution. Under the plan, Republicans would get to keep the sequester in place as long as they agree to pass a stopgap measure to fund the government through December.
"When we return, our intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels," Boehner said in the opening remarks of the call.
"Our message will remain clear: until the president agrees to better cuts and reforms that help grow the economy and put us on path to a balanced budget, his sequester – the sequester he himself proposed, insisted on, and signed into law – stays in place."
A number of members on the call asked Boehner to reconsider his strategy.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., warned leadership they'd have an unhappy caucus on their hands if they ignored the most conservative members' pleas to move ahead with the plan to defund the Affordable Care Act.
But while a House GOP aide said no final decision has been made, Boehner found a lot of support for his plan to avoid an all-out fight with the administration over the resolution.
According to Reuters, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., urged his colleagues to back off. Cole argued the fight was counterproductive because even if the government did shut down, the Affordable Care Act would still be implemented through a separate funding mechanism.