There is a new group in town – that's ready to take the country over the cliff.

I am not talking about the Tea Party members of the House — the Michele Bachmanns, Steve Kings and Joe Wilsons, and 50 or so others who are members of the Tea Party Caucus. I am talking about the Senate, the greatest deliberative body.

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Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeCruz offers bill to weaken labor board's power Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda The Memo: Trump tries to bend Congress to his will MORE (R-Utah), Rand PaulRand PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement MORE (R-Ky.), Ted CruzTed CruzEx-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis Cruz: GOP will 'look like fools' if ObamaCare isn’t repealed The GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million MORE (R-Texas) and Marco RubioMarco RubioBush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller The private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program  Cruz offers bill to weaken labor board's power MORE (R-Fla.) seem intent on shutting down the government unless ObamaCare is defunded. They also don’t want the nation to pay its bills unless they get radical concessions on spending. In short, they are willing to continue to threaten to push the nation over the fiscal brink.

Obviously, Democrats are rolling their eyes, with a “here we go again” look. They remember the government shutdown of 1995, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich got his head handed to him. They remember all the cost, political and financial, that occurred when Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling in 2011. Obstruction and gridlock are not a useful strategy.

Emboldened with Congress’s 15 percent approval rating (pardon the sarcasm), the Republican “Cuckoo Caucus” is intent on standing in the doorway of progress on the economy.

The surprise over these last few days is how strong many Republican members have been in opposing the “Cuckoo Caucus” on both substantive and political grounds.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard BurrBurr: Nunes 'created' unmasking allegations against Rice Susan Rice met with Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Russia probe Overnight Cybersecurity: State Department reportedly eliminating cyber office | Senate Intel chief avoids White House during Russia probe | Dem pushes 'ethical hacking' resolution MORE (R-N.C.) called Lee’s threat of blocking a continuing resolution that would keep the government open “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.” 

Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnCongress, stop using our nation's military policy for political purposes Congress must rid itself of political 'pork' to preserve its integrity 'Path of least resistance' problematic for Congress MORE (R-Okla.) called efforts to defund ObamaCare in this manner “dishonest” and ‘hype.” A noted fiscal hawk, Coburn says he would “love to defund it ... but it will not work.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said it was “foolish” not to fund the government. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called it “terror politics.”Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSen. Flake's GOP challenger: McCain should resign The Hill's 12:30 Report Armed Services leaders appoint strategy panel members MORE (R-Ariz.) referred to it as “shenanigans.”

Finally, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said: “The only way Republicans will lose the House is to shut down the government or default on the debt ... it makes you look politically irresponsible.”

Could it be that we are beginning to see a small ray of sanity coming from Republicans in response to those who seem intent on taking down the economy through government gridlock and shutdown? Could it be that many conservatives are finally standing up to the extreme elements of the party? 

Color me naïve, but my sincere hope is that the “Cuckoo Caucus” will go the way of the dinosaurs and we can return to a Congress with something substantially higher approval rating.