Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has been a loud voice within the House Republican caucus against the strategy of shutting down the government to demand changes to Obamacare.
In an interview with National Review’s Robert Costa, he called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his allies in the House the “lemming caucus,” because they’re willing to lead the party off a cliff in pursuit of impossible policy goals.
And Nunes has a bold strategy to address the lemmings’ negative influence on his party: Wait around for them to come to their senses.
No really, that’s what he told NR. Emphasis added:
NR: As this shutdown continues, what’s your message to the leadership? Can they ignore the lemmings or not?
NUNES: Uh, no. I think we have to continue; I think until these guys that put this strategy into effect see it play out, we won’t learn our lesson. We have to let it all play out until they decide that they want to be part of a functioning majority that gives us the most leverage that we can get to fight for less government and to fix or change Obamacare, get rid of it. But you can’t do any of it with the way we’re doing it now.
If Republicans like Nunes didn’t want to follow the lemmings’ shutdown strategy, they had ways to stop it. They could vote for Democratic motions to bring a clean funding bill to the floor. They could sign a discharge petition to bring a vote on a bill to reopen the government at current funding levels.
Or even more simply, they could have applied the same pressure on leadership that the lemmings do: Refusing to provide votes for strategies they oppose. If Nunes and his allies had told Speaker John Boehner they wouldn’t vote for defund-Obamacare bills, Boehner would have had to go back to the archconservatives and tell them their preferred strategy wasn’t possible due to resistance elsewhere in his caucus, just as Boehner does all the time to the moderates.
But instead, Nunes’ “strategy” is to wait around for people like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who thinks we are living in end times, to figure out that their legislative strategy is suboptimal. Which makes him arguably crazier than Bachmann.
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