Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Republican Centrists Plot Revolt to End Government Shutdown

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Grimm, right, said the speaker met Wednesday with groups of lawmakers who were “spit-balling some ideas” on how to pass a CR that would fund the entire government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the shutdown stretches on, a bloc of moderate House Republicans could be the key to reopening government.

On Wednesday, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, held meetings with groups of “pragmatist” lawmakers — as Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., described them — who want to pass a policy-rider-free continuing resolution and end the government shutdown as soon as possible.

Grimm said the group was “spitballing some ideas” on how to pass a CR that would fund the entire government, but he indicated that any plan would probably require a number of centrists to join Democrats in voting down a routine procedural motion in an attempt to seize control of the debate and the House floor.

Grimm also expressed support for wrapping negotiations over the debt limit, sequester and the CR into one.

“I do feel we’re moving in the right direction, but for me, it can’t be fast enough,” Grimm said.

It isn’t fast enough for Rep. Peter T. King of New York, who was one of the most vocal House Republicans criticizing the party’s strategy as the government headed to a shutdown.

King wasn’t invited to any of Boehner’s moderate meetings Wednesday, so he held his own.

King said he met in his office with roughly 10 members who support a clean CR, and they discussed “what the strategy would be.”

“Everyone wants a clean CR; some just have different timelines” for action, King said.

But King said ultimately Republicans were going to agree to a clean CR.

“It would probably make it easier if we can show that we defeated Obamacare, even if we didn’t,” King said.

Another moderate Republican, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, summed up the current state of play.

“The real problem is we may have gotten ourselves in a position where we can’t budge on a clean CR and they can’t budge on Obamacare,” Simpson said. “I don’t think closing down the government is a good strategy for us.”

But it does seem to have caught the attention of Democrats and the nation. On Wednesday, Boehner headed to a meeting with the president and other congressional leaders, and lawmakers on both sides were hoping they could begin to forge an agreement.

If those talks don’t bear fruit, centrists could decide to try to hijack the floor. One way to get a clean CR would be by voting down a motion to order the previous question. If GOP centrists joined Democrats to vote down the previous question, Democrats could get control of the floor for an hour and might be able to offer a clean CR.

But when would a group of moderates actually employ that strategy?

“That’s the question,” Grimm said. “I think everyone is trying to give leadership at least the opportunity to have the conversation with the other side.”

Asked when he thought the group of moderate Republicans would start voting to do that, King wasn’t sure.

“I think they should do it now,” he said. “Believe it or not, people don’t always listen to me.”

King said that was precisely what lawmakers in his office were discussing — “when they should do it, how it should be done, what process we should follow.”

He said there were many lawmakers who support a clean CR. He cautioned, however, that many of them may never be in a position to vote for it “because of their districts, they’re afraid, they’re concerned about a primary.”

“One thing I admire about the Ted Cruz Republicans, they don’t care what anyone thinks about them, they just go ahead and do it. I think that’s what we have to start doing,” King said. “So to that extent I’m a Cruz Republican.”

But until centrists start acting with more abandon, Boehner is likely to stick with the current plan — even if they have the numbers right now to force a vote on a clean CR.

It’s no secret that King and Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania have been leading a contingent of moderates, and as of Wednesday afternoon, there were at least 18 Republicans who had publicly stated they would vote for a clean CR. The list includes King, Dent, Grimm, Simpson, Devin Nunes of California, C.W. Bill Young of Florida, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, Frank A. LoBiondo of New Jersey, Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Jon Runyan of New Jersey, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, Michael G. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, Rob Wittman of Virginia and Scott Rigell of Virginia.

If they all stick together, the bloc could make Boehner’s life difficult. But Boehner is worried about another group.

Many speculate that Boehner would face a conservative mutiny if he simply brought up a clean CR to be passed by Democrats and a small number of moderate Republicans.

Boehner needs at least 116 Republicans to vote for a CR. That’s half of the Republican Conference’s 232 members, and if Boehner had 116 Republicans to vote for a clean CR, the conservative mutiny would have to stand up to the majority of Republicans in the conference.

But there aren’t 116 Republicans supporting a clean CR — at least not yet and not publicly.

And the moderate group is still waiting to see if Boehner can pull out a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama.

“I think there’s going to be another solution found,” Grimm said.“I know that Speaker Boehner understands the gravity of this situation.”

But ultimately, King said the moderates were going to have fight it out with the far right.

“First of all, I don’t know who they could elect besides John [Boehner]. And sooner or later, we’re going to have to face up to these guys,” King said.

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

  • dnaijaman

    There are more ‘moderates’ in the House than Cruz Republican. The question therefore is…..why did they allow Cruz to hijack the caucus and present the whole House GOP as a bunch of kooks?

    • BruceMajors4DC

      Please use your real name so we can record it for come the revolution.

      • dectra

        Yea……….cause SO many folks here use their real names. Try responding to his post, instead of being a jerk.

    • cindyLowe

      Because, as the article says, the Tea-Party Republicans are much more principled than the moderate Republicans. They don’t care about getting reelected. They don’t care if they destroy the Republican party. They only care about defeating Obamacare. So they’re much more forceful when they act. They can threaten a lot more things that Moderate Republicans are not willing to threaten. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tea Party split with the Republicans and give the House to the Democrats if the Moderate Republicans try to fight with them.

      • Elliot J. Stamler

        Let us pray.

    • Mojojojo

      Because they have been lying. There are no conservative moderates left. They didn’t “allow” Cruz to do it, they did it themselves. They voted yes.

    • rgspol

      It was done intentionally to allow the Tea Party Republicans to show themselves as they are: total amateurs, irrational ideologues, who will never be able to govern as governing requires compromise. FINALLY, my GOP sees they need to amputate the right wing if we want a future. What we are seeing right now is the GOP adults are allowing the right wing to go out on that limb on their own. They go out there readily, on their own, feeling all good and smart about themselves. Actually, no one is fooled. It won’t be long the right wing will look over their shoulder and see that there is no one there. Just before a loud snap as the branch breaks.

  • BruceMajors4DC

    Harry Reid wonders why those damn kids can’t get along with brain tumors, like he has for years.

  • 1775concord

    So you call these northeast liberal RINOs “moderates,” or “centrists?” What do you call all the far left Democrats who, with Harry Reid and Obama, shut down the government and refuse to negotiate?

    • Ciloman FreeBSD

      The government shutdown is the GOP’s own doing. So stop passing the blame. And as for negotiations, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.

      • 1775concord

        I’m not passing the blame; just putting it where it lies. “My way or the highway,” refusal to negotiate posture, is Obama’s.

        I assume “we” means you are a left-winger. Obama just talks to Putin, to Iran’s president, and has long said he would talk with terrorists. Your intransigent and ill-informed attitude of insinuating that Republicans are terrorists is duly noted.
        Harry Reid’s failure to produce a budget for four years is one reason that we are in another of the many budget crises. And Obamacare was passed by Democrats only, many votes coming from Senators and Representatives who voted against the will of the people they were supposed to represent, with Democrat arm-twisting and bribes.

      • YeahBut

        We are not terrorists. Don’t you realize most personnel in military are conservative? Law enforcement too. We are protecting our freedoms and then punks like you call us terrorists? Go to hell.

    • YeahBut

      The radical left are Douchbaggers

      • DLM

        You don’t even know what a radical left is. The Democrats are to the right of the conservatives in the UK and Canada.

  • conservativechick

    If they pull this, they will single-handedly bring an end to the Republican Party.

    That would be like Obama announcing an executive order ending food stamps.

    • godblessusa

      “If they pull this, they will single-handedly bring an end to the Republican Party.”

      No they won’t. That’s absurd.

      • cindyLowe

        Tea-Party Republicans are radicals. There is A LOT of talk among Tea-Partiers about a third party. They are VERY angry. FAR more angry about Obamacare than Democrats are angry about the government being shut down. They will do it.

        • YeahBut

          You are right. We are angry…lots to be angry about. Very angry at the radical left douchbaggers for destroying this country—turning us into a socialist third world country.

    • YeahBut

      Giving citizenship to illegal trespasses is what will destroy the GOP and the u.s.

  • markpkessinger

    Pfft! – GOP “moderates.”

    There are no “moderates” in today’s GOP. Today’s GOP consists of two factions: the hard right faction and the radical lunatic faction. That’s it.

    • bmh

      Were you part of the Occupy movement?

    • Julie A

      I suppose if you were a liberal socialist you would believe so.

    • Mojojojo

      I agree, sorry Emma Dumain, but this article is BS.

      Your whole list of conservative “moderates” except for 2 voted “yes” to shut down government unless Obamacare was defunded. They could stop it right now by joining Dems for a majority, but they don’t want to. You know why? They aren’t moderates. There are no moderates.

    • CTC Wilson

      Com’on Mark. Is this how you manage, negotiate, you marriage? No. Your honeywoman would kick you a&* if you did. Often times things are not so much what they are as what we perceive them to be. Wait until mid term election time and then see what the American people do. Americans are a strong lot of people and they will take just so much.

  • william russell

    Hey a message to the rhino republicans if you cave, it will ensure the development of a third party because 87% of the american people dislike the senate and house. There will be a blood bad in november 2014 because the american people are made as hell. You all better think twice because it is your future. You guys and men and women are so out of touch with the people you represent. The american voter spoke when carter was in office because they were push to much and i see the same thing happening again. It is your choice and your decision but we the voter will have the control of your future. just look at what happen to rubio when he was part of the gang of 12 and passed an immigration bill. He went from the top for a shot at the presidency to last place. The people who put him in office felt betrayed and stabbed in the back and we will not forget/

    • markpkessinger

      Here’s the problem with your little prognostication. You see, while it is true that Congress’ approval rating, as a body, it is also true that when you ask those same respondents about their approval of their particular respective senators and representatives, the results are almost always consistent the the results of the most recent election in which the particular senator or representative was last elected or re-elected. So you see, approval of Congress, as a collective body, is pretty useless as a predictor of the next election. At the ballot box, the voter is voting for particular candidates, not Congress as a whole.

      • Steve

        Proof that the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

    • Nexus926

      You seem to have that backward. The Cruz/Tealiban faction is nothing but a parasitic infiltration by the failed Libertarian Party. If the Libertarians didn’t like the Republican Party, they should have never co-opted it. Let the uber-rightwing fanatics be the ones to (re)create a third party; they’d fail just as surely as they did the first time.

      • YeahBut

        You are obviously not following things very closely. The movement is growing exponentially. Just wait…….

        • Nexus926

          Waiting, waiting…..

    • Webb1957

      I’m begging you, Mr. Russell, learn how to spell. Please!!

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      On top of being a fascist you also are an illiterate.

  • Defend Liberty

    In this related YouTube video we find the least popular Congressional leader, Harry Reid, obstructing funds for children with cancer:

  • dectra

    Kick the Teabaggers out.

    THEN negotiate.

    • Julie A

      Kick the liberals and the RINO’s out! Then we’ll have a free country without government control.

      • YeahBut

        Yeah! The democrats are the Douch-baggers.

    • VoteLoud

      Want a teabag eh?

  • wildrover4

    Here is the real question, if they bolt, do they bolt all the way out of the party and just declare themselves independents? They could remove the gavel from Boehner’s hands altogether.

  • YeahBut

    The GOP will have to be the ones who negotiate…..because the radical left is united and won’t budge at the expense of the American people.

    • Joan Brown

      What??? The Dems already negotiated! What you ask? They accepted the sequester levels of funding for the CR, INSTEAD of increasing funding for like NIH.

      The Dems should have made a big deal of it, then the Repubs could not use the cry of no negotiating.

      Please check your facts before you state your conclusion.

  • Steffen Schmidt

    There is a good old saying.

    “You made your bed. Now sleep in it.”
    I think Boehner and the Tea baggers probably remember theior grandma saying that.
    Good luck Michelle.

  • CTC Wilson

    What is inevitable has been left out, the coming revolution. It is inevitable. We are repeating what occurred in Rome under the Roman Empire. This will eventually happen here. Just a matter of time. Americans just have not had enough, yet.

    • LeGrandOrange4

      And this is a two way street,

  • Karen

    Those are the same moderates who pushed to bomb Libya.

  • Karen

    and Syria.

  • VoteLoud

    That will cost the Pubs our vote in 2014 and perhaps a new party.


  • Frank W Brown

    king needs replacement too!

  • Steve

    King thinks he can run for President? Maybe as a Democrat.

  • darma2u

    It is obvious we need a third party, a really Centrist. Labor, People Party that is in Washington to make this Country work for the American People, Could appreciate a Bernie Sanders, Ralph Nader leadership, people who actually want to see the Average American do well, I even like Angus King(I need to see more of what he actually does at the National level) and Buddy Roemer because he was self funded for one. Because like Henry Ford realized a well earned Average American is the Fuel for a Good American economy. Those who believe in and support trickle down have had how many years, those who say that the top 5% are the JOB creators better look in the mirror, they are the very ones who have sent your JOBS to other countries. Those of the Congress who are and have supported this thinking have proven they are wrong and we have the overall economy and unemployment to prove it. There is more than enough money, profit, for business to help its employees buy health insurance but greed has taken over, we are and have been BAINED. We believe in the Gordon Gecko, ENRON ilk of ‘let grandma read by candle light’, while they get bonuses…..


    • Jeff P

      We do and it is evolving. It’s called the Tea Party.

      • Jesse4

        Leave it to a Bagger to get so confused over a simple word like “centrist.”

      • darma2u

        If you truly think the Tea Party is “centrist” you totally did not understand what I was saying. The Tea Party was funded by the Koch Brothers and they, in no way, shape or form give 2 cents for what happens to American over all or the average person. If you think I’m wrong so be it but please do yourself a favor and become informed. I also doubt that you and I know I’m not rich enough to ever count to them except as ‘cannon fodder’. Watch on the net “The Lee Atwater story”, he was on the inside.

    • rgspol

      Yes, we need centrism, but the best way to accomplish that is for my GOP to amputate the right wing. Afterwards, they can form their own circle jerk party. They only want to talk to themselves anyway.
      Oncee they are out of the GOP, out of the way, we can get down to business and compete with the Dems in the center. That is the only hope for the GOP and really its best role.

  • GuardAmerican

    BETRAYAL! GOP @SpeakerBoehner and @RepPaulRyan ARE NOT DEFUNDING OBAMACARE! Call! FIGHT! Boehner: 513-779-5400 & Ryan: 608-752-4050 & Cantor: 804-747-4073.

  • TaterSalad

    Remove Senator Debbie Stabenow from office in 2016. She to this day still supports Obamacare while millions of Americans are losing their healthcare insurance.

    Obamacare death spiral song…literally:

    From Obamacare:

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