Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 8, 2015

Corker Warns of Inflated Expectations From Push to Defund Obamacare

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bob Corker is saying openly what other Republicans seem to be thinking behind the scenes: The strategy to defund Obamacare is raising expectations among conservatives to unrealistic levels.

“It seems to me that the House sends over a piece of legislation, we are easily going to support it. We are also going to probably support ending debate,” the Tennessee Republican said, adding that under Senate rules, Democrats would have a chance to amend the bill post-cloture to eliminate the language defunding Obamacare.

“It just seems to me that what’s happened unfortunately is that American expectations on Republicans and what they can do have been raised to a level that’s beyond delivery,” Corker added.

Corker’s comments came after he took what some might construe as a swipe against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Twitter earlier in the day.

For those unfamiliar, a “box canyon” is a canyon that’s essentially a trap with no way out. Cruz went to both Ivy League schools mentioned.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the No. 3 Democratic leader, told reporters that one of the problems with the Cruz-backed effort is that supporters don’t seem to know the outcome.

“They have this hard-nosed, adamant, almost surreal tea party saying go ahead and do it, and the tea party doesn’t even know how it’s going to end,” the New York Democat said.

Without referring to anyone by name, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid likewise said that the defund Obamacare advocates are really seeking publicity.

“These are not just games to the middle class in America. While Republicans in Washington use these stunts to raise money and grab headlines, people in Nevada and around the country are going to feel the pain of this economic shutdown,” Reid said. “The consequences of shutdown are deadly serious.”

“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare,” Cruz said at a news conference with House conservatives, adding that in addition to a classic filibuster, he would use “any procedural means necessary.”

“Listen, this is the most important fight in the country, and it’s easy to focus on the political back-and-forth,” Cruz said. “This is going to be an iterative process. In all likelihood, it’s not going to be a single-shot CR and everything’s resolved.

Cruz continued: “If and when we win this fight, it is going to be because House Republicans have stood up and showed the courage that they are showing right now, that they continue to stand up. The House is the one branch of government that Republicans have a majority.”

Asked about the suggestion by Cruz that GOP House members should reinsert language to defund Obamacare if Reid strikes it out of the bill, Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., demurred.

“I just avoid weighing in on telling House members how they should run their world over there,” Johanns said. “From my vantage point on the Senate side, it was always clear to me under the rules here at the Senate, you know, the majority leader has that kind of power. I couldn’t see how we would end up voting for this.”

Johanns said he’d look at the whole bill before deciding how to vote on a debate-limiting cloture vote, which would likely come while the bill still has Obamacare defunding language. A number of Senate Republicans are likely to oppose that vote based on the spending level in the bill, rather than the Obamacare issue that’s getting so many headlines.

Seven Senate Republicans, led by Jeff Flake of Arizona, sent Reid a letter Thursday calling for a continuing resolution at a $967 billion spending level, which is the sequester level for fiscal 2014. That’s as opposed to the roughly $986 billion level in the House CR.

“While potentially politically expedient in the short term, it is difficult to conceive of a fiscal test by which the consideration of spending legislation for next year authorizing a funding level higher than $967 billion could be viewed as responsible,” the letter said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney signaled Thursday that President Barack Obama would accept a stopgap spending measure at the House level (with Obamacare funded, of course).

“The president has been and is willing to negotiate with Republicans over a broad compromise on budget, on funding and spending,” Carney said. “He has put forward his own proposal to do that, and he urges Congress to act to make sure the government does not shut down and continues to be funded, and if necessary, to pass a short-term extension of funding at current levels in order to allow for further negotiations on a broader budget agreement.”

 Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Comments (68)

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  1. Mojojojo

    Sept. 20, 2013
    1:26 a.m.

    Isn’t that the driving thrust of modern conservatism? Why does Corker think this is news? Great pic btw.

  2. truthseeker53

    Sept. 20, 2013
    8:50 a.m.

    Our RINO Tennessee senators Alexander and Corker, have voted for nearly every liberal bill/appointment that’s came by, ESPECIALLY Alexander who may as well be Dimocrap.

    • Grytpype-Thynne

      Sept. 20, 2013
      9:59 a.m.

      Keep it up.

    • 729

      Sept. 20, 2013
      4:13 p.m.

      I can count too and I count on voting against Corker and Alexander in the future.

  3. mcrchap

    Sept. 20, 2013
    5:57 p.m.

    Bob Corker is a big disappointment. He’s at least a Rhino and ought to be sent packing the next time he runs. The same for Alexander and McConnell.

  4. HoratioBunceTN

    Sept. 20, 2013
    8:12 p.m.

    I’m ashamed to say Corker is our Senator. Alexander is leaning to defund ObamaCare but we’ll see.

  5. alamarque

    Sept. 20, 2013
    9 p.m.

    corker try representing the people who voted for you and not the character doesn’t matter lying corrupt racistcontrol lawless murdering democrats bo bo bhobmam saul alinsky george soros terrorist billy ayers billy hiliary clinton reid code pink pelosi mccain newsmedia entertainment pccupy wall street acorn aclu planned parenthood muslim brothhood –hay check their backgrounds actions programs beliefs results– can’t balance a check book liokes to spend taxpayers money banghazi fast furious their programs destroying our economy –no economy freedom of speech religion etc.–corker get a backbone and pray to the GOD of IAM HIS SON JESUS CHRIST and theHOLY SPIRIT for wisdom not some GODLESS gov. that you are part of –cruz lee and the rest of the GODLY men and women in congress will succeed with or without you.

  6. ThyOracle

    Sept. 21, 2013
    6:03 p.m.

    Corker is right. It is a box canyon for Republicans.

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