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Republican Winners of the Shutdown Standoff

Lawmakers who salvaged some messaging, found winnable fights to pick, or staked out some 2016 ground.

by
Bridget Johnson

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October 17, 2013 - 3:51 pm
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WASHINGTON — “There are no winners here,” President Obama declared Thursday as he took a victory lap at the final passage of a clean continuing resolution to end the 16-day government shutdown.

There are some early political winners — but not necessarily among the key players in the standoff.

Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) fundraising was a winner, pulling in $1.19 million through his re-election committee and PAC in the last quarter, which included his September marathon speech on the Senate floor, and gathering a lengthy campaign mailing list from more than 2 million petition signatures at the Don’t Fund Obamacare site. But there aren’t indications that the presumed 2016 hopeful has done anything to win votes in a general national election. It also is uncertain how Cruz’s young Senate career will proceed or be perceived over the next few years — he’s introduced nine standalone bills and resolutions in the 113th Congress, two of those dealing with the repeal or defunding of Obamacare. A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey released Wednesday confirmed that Cruz’s popularity has soared among the Tea Party, but unfavorable ratings for the Tea Party movement are the highest ever at 49 percent.

Asked by Politico who the winners of the shutdown were, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) replied, “The people that managed to raise a lot of money off this.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has been a potential rising star in his own right but shaped up in the standoff as Cruz’s No. 2 despite his call for a defunding of Obamacare in the next spending bill at the beginning of July.

And House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) outcome remains to be seen. He’s safe in his speakership, but threw up the white flag to end the shutdown after he couldn’t bring his final compromise to the floor for a lack of caucus support. “We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win,” Boehner said, failing to note it wasn’t exactly a fight he was looking to pick.

Yet there are some Republicans who have come out ahead over the course of the shutdown.

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.): Every time the flame-maned, baritone congressman from Oklahoma hit the news channels during the shutdown, the GOP gained back a few P.R. points. Liberals on Twitter buzzed about how rational and reasoned the second-term congressman sounded and how the Republican Party should put him front-and-center more often.

In a war that was just as much about messaging gone awry as legislative text, congressional Republican leaders found an ideal messenger in Lankford. He’s risen quickly in the House to chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and his savvy extends beyond being a talking head: In March, as the government closed in on another budget deadline, Lankford reintroduced the Government Shutdown Prevention Act to create an automatic continuing resolution for any regular appropriations bill not completed before the end of the fiscal year. After the first 120 days without an agreement, this automatic funding would be reduced by one percentage point and would continue to be reduced by that margin every 90 days.

“Every time Congress and the president miss a statutory budget deadline, the fallback position is another government shutdown or one more continuing resolution to fund the government at current, unsustainable levels,” Lankford said back then.

Last night, Lankford stressed there are “real problems” with Obamacare that need to be addressed and noted he’s “never been supportive of shutdowns.”

“I think it’s the wrong way to be able to run government. There is a way to be able to fix that. And hopefully in the days ahead, we’ll be able to run my bill. It’s actually fixed this in the days ahead,” he told CNN.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.): Cruz’s potential 2016 challenger hung around just enough to show his support for an Obamacare repeal, but notably hung back just enough to let Cruz own a shutdown unpopular among the general electorate.

At the Values Voters Summit last weekend, Paul’s speech focused not on the shutdown but on violence against Christians around the globe “as if we lived in the Middle Ages or as if we lived under early pagan Roman rule.” As Kentucky Senate challenger Matt Bevin has rallied Tea Party support against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Paul not only offered McConnell his early endorsement but the junior and senior senators were caught strategizing on a hot mic in the early days of the shutdown.

Months after his 13-hour filibuster of the John Brennan nomination over concerns about domestic drone use, Paul showed up for Cruz’s 21-hour speech for what seemed like symbolic purposes as Cruz noted he’d showed up for Paul’s filibuster.

“I thought I would come down and make sure the senator had comfortable shoes on, make sure he is getting enough to eat — try not to eat on television. That is a little free advice that sometimes shows up,” Paul said on the floor that night, noting Cruz “has done a good job of bringing attention” to Obamacare flaws.

“Tonight, a deal was struck to re-open the government and avoid the debt ceiling deadline. That is a good thing,” Paul said of his “no” vote on the Reid-McConnell deal last night. “However, our country faces a problem bigger than any deadline: a $17 trillion debt. I am disappointed that Democrats would not compromise to avoid the looming debt debacle.”

It was a constant refrain of the small-government standard bearer in the upper chamber: “I think it is personally not a good idea to shut down government,” Paul said on the night of Cruz’s speech. “None of us likes the government being closed. I didn’t want to be here in the beginning,” he said on Sunday. “…I was against shutting down, and it is a failure of conversation to be in a shutdown.”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): The House Budget Committee chairman was branded a rising star on the right when he introduced his Path to Prosperity budget blueprint well before being picked by Mitt Romney for the presidential ticket. Ryan’s package featured healthcare law changes, including repealing the individual mandate, and entitlement reform including Medicare vouchers. Ryan wore the vilification of his plan as a badge of honor as he warned of the cataclysmic consequences of national debt spiraling out of control.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Rich Galen, who writes the "Mullings" newsletter, had some great points to make.

I strongly urge you read his column at www.mullings.com, but here, I think, are the essential take-aways from last night's debacle.

1. The President and Senator Reid made NO concessions to reach this deal.

2. John Boehner capitulated on every point. I was about to say, "every point on the table", except that there was never ANYTHING "on the table". For Barack Obama, it was "his way or the highway".

3. Obama and Reid were willing to destroy the United States of America rather than to yield on ANY item.

4. Boehner was not.

I'm not a big fan of John Boehner - but I respect him more now than I did two weeks ago. Let's see if the rest of the GOP can manage to figure this out as well. The "mainstream media" will try to spin this as an enormous win for the President - but I'm not so sure. Let's see if we can't turn the tables next year.

But I would note that Mitch McConnell, in larding up the bill with 2 billion dollars of pork for Kentucky, has lost prestige in my eyes. Let's hope that a good primary challenger can show him the error of his ways.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I seems to me that the Establishment Republicans were exposed as faithless liars uncommitted to fighting for fiscal responsibility and small government, and failures at everything they touch, and this right before the start of the 2014 Primaries. And the TEA Party is planning to primary large numbers of these now badly damaged losers. The TEA Party's stated strategy all along has been to take over the Republican Party from the inside. It seems to me they collected a ton of money, and damaged their establishment Republican opponents at the same time, pretty elegant.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...and gathering a lengthy campaign mailing list from more than 2 million petition signatures at the Don’t Fund Obamacare site."

Just a helpful reminder of what the actual impact of signing these politician-sponsored petitions is: your addition to a funding database.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
my roomate's mother makes $87 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired from work for five months but last month her payment was $13386 just working on the laptop for a few hours. more information....WWW.Rush64.COM
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cruz's only mistake was going to war, backed by the GOP version of the French Army.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most of this article seems to me to reflect the spin of the GOP establishment. Many journalists take the easier and safer route of regurgitating the established story spin rather than really looking into a story or using critical thinking. There are many who could make a strong case that you have this entirely backward.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's important to note that, without the confidence that he could place in the GOP establishment, Reid never would have had the nerve to shut the government down.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Laugh about it, shout about it, when you have to choose...
Anyway you look at it you lose...
And laughing about it is sometimes the best medicine.
And it's a good sign when the other side is getting really nasty.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dont forget Mitch McConnell who got a near $3 billion dollar earmark for KY, of which he will no doubt see a lot of kickbacks from.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I dont think he should have came up empty, but he, Manchin, and Paul and the reps from California's Central Valley should have instead teamed up and gotten the EPA to roll back their respective curbs on coal production and water irrigation.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
These RINO clowns dont get to pick and choose their payoffs. They would never get what you have listed, because that is in direct violation of a major Leftist policy goal of choking the American economy with carbon dioxide fearmongering. It's all about control.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left would never have gone for that. These RINOs get what crumbs they are offered.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rich Galen, who writes the "Mullings" newsletter, had some great points to make.

I strongly urge you read his column at www.mullings.com, but here, I think, are the essential take-aways from last night's debacle.

1. The President and Senator Reid made NO concessions to reach this deal.

2. John Boehner capitulated on every point. I was about to say, "every point on the table", except that there was never ANYTHING "on the table". For Barack Obama, it was "his way or the highway".

3. Obama and Reid were willing to destroy the United States of America rather than to yield on ANY item.

4. Boehner was not.

I'm not a big fan of John Boehner - but I respect him more now than I did two weeks ago. Let's see if the rest of the GOP can manage to figure this out as well. The "mainstream media" will try to spin this as an enormous win for the President - but I'm not so sure. Let's see if we can't turn the tables next year.

But I would note that Mitch McConnell, in larding up the bill with 2 billion dollars of pork for Kentucky, has lost prestige in my eyes. Let's hope that a good primary challenger can show him the error of his ways.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I seems to me that the Establishment Republicans were exposed as faithless liars uncommitted to fighting for fiscal responsibility and small government, and failures at everything they touch, and this right before the start of the 2014 Primaries. And the TEA Party is planning to primary large numbers of these now badly damaged losers. The TEA Party's stated strategy all along has been to take over the Republican Party from the inside. It seems to me they collected a ton of money, and damaged their establishment Republican opponents at the same time, pretty elegant.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ms Johnson, if I'm reading this correctly, those who "won" here either got more money, fame (or notoriety) or polled better.

Really? That's the best we former supporters of the GOP can hope for?

OK. Then don't forget the dam pork McConnell got out of this. Because when it's said and done, the Dems clearly beat the living snot out of the GOP on this one: they got a debt ceiling raise, they got Congress the hell out of the way for future raises (oh, yes, it'll happen automatically now), Obamacare is untouched, and we'll have a "budget conference" which will be about as useful as an AA-battery operated space shuttle.

Those of us who care about what's happening to our country, and are not so concerned about the fate of a particular political party, we're pretty much hosed.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The traps and pit falls facing the GOP in the coming rounds are numerous. Sure, Commander Zero says he is willing to discuss cutting mandated spending - but if and only if he can blame all of it on the GOP. Sure, he is willing to discuss cutting the debt and the size of government but if and only if he can gain real political advantage from that. The GOP is afraid to say out loud that they are dealing with a ruthless, socialist/Fascist Democratic President because they don't want to be called "racist." Yeah, well, when you deal with a guy who could help Saul Alinsky write his rules, you darn well better be ready willing and able to play hardball. Commander Zero will happily toss a bean ball at any one, politician or not, who is standing in his way. That's the way he thinks and that's the way he plays the game. The sooner we honestly recognize that and work on dealing with it the better off we will all be.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
If people can actually be taught to believe that they aren't feeling as much pain because of their Red State Govs, the Dems might be in trouble come 2016, especially as Obamacare starts to really sink in.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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