McConnell declines to weigh in on ObamaCare shutdown threat

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Tuesday he has yet to decide whether to support a proposal to block government funding if it includes money for ObamaCare.

Tea Party Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have ratcheted up the pressure on McConnell to threaten a government shutdown if Democrats refuse to relent on the healthcare overhaul.

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McConnell told reporters he’s in the midst of discussions about government funding, which will expire at the end of September, and the national debt limit, projected to run out at year’s end.

“We’ve had a lot of internal discussions about the way forward this fall in both the continuing resolution and, ultimately, the debt ceiling, and those discussions continue,” McConnell said. “There’s no particular announcement at this point.”

Cruz has gone on a public relations blitz in recent weeks to build support for blocking funds for the implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The Texas senator accused his fellow Republicans in Congress of having a “defeatist” mentality about stopping the law’s implementation before the open enrollment period for government-subsidized insurance plans begins in the fall.

On Tuesday, Cruz downplayed the political consequences of threatening a government shutdown. He disputed the conventional wisdom in Washington that the 1995 federal government shutdown was a catastrophe for Republicans.

“The world didn’t end,” Cruz told bloggers at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

“Planes didn’t fall out of the sky. Social Security checks didn’t stop. Military paychecks didn’t stop. We didn’t default on our national debt,” he said.

Lee and Rubio were also scheduled to speak in favor of linking ObamaCare to the stopgap spending measure that will be necessary to keep government operating beyond the end of September.