Cornyn: 'It may be necessary to partially shut down the government'

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Cornyn's comments are a break from other congressional Republicans, who have largely shied away from explicitly threatening government shutdown or default. On Thursday, former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said he thinks default could be prevented even if Congress does not strike a deal.

“I don’t believe we’re going to default on our bonds. I believe that we can do things to prevent that from happening," Ryan said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

A spokesman for the Wisconsin congressman later added that Ryan believed leaders in Congress would act to ensure the government would not default.

But other prominent Republicans have agreed with Cornyn and suggested a partial government shutdown was preferable to a bad deal.

On Wednesday, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said that plan was "a hell of a lot better" than allowing the president to again raise taxes.

“Our opportunity here is on the debt ceiling,” Toomey told MSNBC. “The president has made it very clear: he doesn’t even want to have a discussion about it, because he knows this is where we have leverage. We Republicans need to be willing to tolerate a temporary partial government shutdown — which is what that could mean — and insist that we get off the road to Greece because that’s the road we’re on right now.”

In 2011, Cornyn told reporters that a government shutdown would make Congress appear incompetent.

“My hope is that cooler heads will prevail,” he said at the time.

The federal government last shutdown during budget fights in 1995 and 1996 between President Bill Clinton and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) resulted in a total of 28 days of suspended non-essential services.