Conservatives in Congress woke up to sinking poll numbers Wednesday morning, but a GOP think tank that bankrolls campaigns and gins up tactical maneuvers for Capitol Hill says its not time to give up on the fight against Obamacare.
After more than a week-long stalemate, Heritage Action for America- the political arm of the Heritage Foundation - says it will continue to push Republicans to not reopen the government under any circumstances until Obamacare is dismantled, defunded or repealed.
"We should not fund the government, the entire government, until we address the president's unfair, unaffordable and unworkable law," Michael Needham, the executive director for Heritage Action, said Wednesday during a breakfast with reporters. Even a roll back of the medical device tax would be too small a token for Heritage Action, he said.
Polling Wednesday morning indicated that such a strategy was waning on the GOP's popularity. A new poll by the Associated Press showed more than 60 percent of Americans blamed Republicans for shutting the government down.
Yet Heritage Action yields tremendous power on Capitol Hill. After all, they launched the grass-roots campaign that generated enough public support for Republicans to even believe shutting down the government to stop Obamacare was possible. They have more than the ear of many of the GOP's most powerful brokers. They launched their public tour this summer to defund Obamacare with the party's rising star Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and the group has spent more than $500,000 lobbying on the hill since 2010.
Needham was unflappable in his defense of defunding Obamacare through the continuing resolution, however, he did concede that the upcoming debt limit fight would not be the place to stop Obamacare.
"It is a battle we are not engaged in," Needham said.
Needham joins a growing chorus of Republicans who decry the debt ceiling as a self-imposed deadline, but admits not raising it could have negative effects on the markets.
"Debt default is something that is fear mongering and people are talking about, but it is not going to happen," Needham said. "Treasury will be able to prioritize revenues that come in."
Other conservative groups who have been advocating to stop Obamacare using the funding bill are also keeping the pressure on.
"Club for Growth supports efforts to defund and dismantle Obamacare and will continue to do so. We do not support continuing resolutions that simply kick the can down the road," Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said in an email.
The Republican Party has become fractured in recent days with a host of moderate Republicans, including Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., coming forward in support for a no-frills funding bill that simply ends the shutdown, but does nothing to stop Obamacare.
"What disturbs me most is that there are a few dozen members who are trying to drive the agenda at the expense of the 180 to 200 others, who I consider the [Republican] Party's governing wing," Dent told Reuters in an interview.