WASHINGTON -- House Republicans once again find themselves in disagreement, this time over how many of their GOP colleagues would actually support a bill to avert a government shutdown if it lacked provisions that delayed or defunded Obamacare.
A number of moderate and some not-so-moderate members from within the party suggested over the weekend that just such a measure could pass through the chamber, albeit with Democratic support. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said he was prepared to vote for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government if it got to the floor. "It's time to govern," he said. "I don't intend to support a fool's errand."
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a deputy majority whip of the House, suggested that leaders want to consider a clean CR but they are currently under too much pressure to present it as an option to the caucus.
And on Sunday, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told "Meet the Press" that while he personally wouldn't support a clean bill, he believed there were "enough people in the Republican Party who are willing to do that." For good measure, he made a prediction: "that's what you're going to see."
So are all these members right about the math?
At a rally outside the Capitol building on Sunday afternoon, a number of other House members called on the Senate to negotiate with them over the composition of the continuing resolution. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a member of GOP leadership, declined to speculate on whether a clean bill could indeed make it through the lower chamber.
"I’m not going to presume what may or may not pass at this point," she said.
But Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) was much more eager to push back on what he viewed as his Republicans colleagues' acquiescence.
"Labrador doesn’t speak for the House, obviously," he replied. "And as far as I know, he is not a senior member, is he? So he hasn’t been around a long time to understand where everybody is. So I wouldn’t think that his analysis would be taken as something that should be taken as [if he’s] an expert, but someone who is just sort of a newcomer."
In actuality, of course, only 17 Republican members would have to support a clean CR, assuming it picked up the votes of all 200 Democrats. The question is whether or not House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would even allow such a vote to take place. GOP leadership will reportedly meet on Monday to discuss this and other options.
Boehner could go down this route while pledging to try and tackle Obamacare reform at a later date. But as Rohrabacher noted, the speaker would be forfeiting political leverage.
"When you are trying to get something done in a democratic process, what we have learned over the years is that it responds when there is pressure on it," Rohrabacher said. "People just don’t naturally come to the point where they are willing to compromise their position. There has to be pressure on it. Thus, we are not going to find another avenue for reform or compromise if we give up this pressure point. We should be using these pressure points to accomplish things."
Asked if that logic extended to the debt ceiling fight that will come in a few weeks' time, he nodded.
"Whatever pressure points you have should be used to push the democratic process further along," the congressman said. "And the democratic process is one party controls one house, the other party controls the other and you need the pressure to get them to compromise."