A top House Republican said Monday President Obama might try to force a government shutdown to hurt Republicans.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), the top GOP member of the influential House Financial Services Committee, said Republicans should be prepared to be "brave" in the face of a shutdown.
Republicans are optimistic they will retake control of the House in Tuesday's elections, setting up a showdown between Obama and the GOP on taxes and spending, among other issues. Bachus could be chairman of the key committee if he's able to successfully fend of a challenge to his position when Republicans choose committee spots after the election.
GOP leaders have said repeatedly they don't wish to force a shutdown, reminiscent of 1995's short shutdowns that resulted from an impasse between President Clinton and congressional Republicans, who suffered politically over the incident.
"I don't think this country is desirous of seeing a government that shuts down," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Friday. "I think that the people want to see a government that does what the people expect it to do, which is to limit itself in scope and to reduce spending and to reduce the uncertainty that this economy is suffering under right now."
But Bachus's comments on Monday hint at early Republican posturing over a shutdown they might not necessarily want, but could be forced into if Obama takes a hard-line stance against congressional Republicans next year. Bachus sought to shoulder Obama with the blame and prevent the GOP from being tarred by a Democratic president. That was Clinton's tactic.
"We wouldn't be shutting it down. We would be cutting out the excessive spending. And if the president wanted to shut the government down — but we would not shut the government down," he said. "But what we would do, we wouldn't allow him to force us to spend taxpayer dollars that don't need to be spent."