Cruz's crusade strains GOP

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Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, who also disagrees with the idea, said the GOP is the only institution capable of reversing ObamaCare and will lose the opportunity to do so if the party is blamed for shutting the government down after President Obama most likely vetoes legislation that eviscerates his signature accomplishment.

"A measure passed by a Democratic president, House and Senate (and approved by the Supreme Court) can be reversed only by a Republican president, House and Senate. And the picking of lopsided, losing fights makes this prospect less likely."

In my column this week, I noted that Republicans like these are resisting Cruz and Lee's efforts, and some have even since removed their names from the petition, but the pressure the Cruz crusade is placing on the House Speaker is enormous. Not only does he have a regular army of conservatives who refuse to agree to spending bills without deep cuts, but Cruz is now taunting House Republicans for their hobby of holding votes to repeal ObamaCare he mocks as "empty" and "symbolic."

The Republicans in Congress, who this week showed they cannot agree to stick with the sequester or to reverse it, have to reach consensus on a bill or bills to extend government funding past Sept. 30. Somehow in between beach vacations and town-hall meetings, they are expected to unite behind a strategy not only to pass all spending bills but also to raise the debt ceiling again.

If you see a Republican member during these dog days of August, ask him or her how those conference calls are going.

CAN THE GOP DEFUND OBAMACARE OR END THE SEQUESTER? AskAB returns Tuesday, Aug. 6. Please join my weekly video Q&A by sending your questions and answers to askab@thehill.com.