Shutdown showdown over ObamaCare gains steam from right

A who's who of conservative leaders is pushing the House to pass a government funding bill without money for ObamaCare, a move they acknowledge could cause a government shutdown.

The conservatives, including Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson, told Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to seize what they called the "best and last chance" to stop ObamaCare before its major provisions take effect.

Passing a government funding bill without money for ObamaCare "will give the president and Senate Democrats a choice: Continue funding the government, or shut down the government on behalf of an unpopular law," the leaders wrote.

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Their letter, circulated late Monday by Heritage Action, will likely boost an effort by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to rally congressional Republicans behind a threat to shut down the government unless the healthcare law receives no funding.

The campaign has received strong pushback from a growing list of establishment Republicans who say the strategy will prove fatal to the GOP if it ultimately stops the government from functioning.

ATR said Tuesday that it does not back the threat of a government shutdown, but signed the Heritage letter to push the House toward a continuing resolution that defunds ObamaCare.

The group wants a defunding vote in the House as a marker, said an ATR official.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), as well as Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer have all voiced opposition to the threat, saying President Obama will never agree to kill his signature healthcare law and that the public will blame Republicans if the government shuts down.

More than 50 leaders signed the Heritage letter, including Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe, American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas, ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, National Taxpayers Union President Duane Parde and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly.

—This post was updated at 8:22 p.m. with ATR's clarification.