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 John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE and House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorIf we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling to retire after end of current term MORE (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 LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Johnson says he will not support tax-reform bill Moore endorsements disappear from campaign website MORE (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 McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Ad encourages GOP senator to vote 'no' on tax bill MORE (R-Ariz.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnFormer GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder Lobbying World -trillion debt puts US fiscal house on very shaky ground MORE (R-Okla.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senator: Capitol Hill's sexual harassment reporting protocol is 'totally inappropriate' Senate passes resolution requiring mandatory sexual harassment training Strange bedfellows on criminal justice reform could offer Trump a legislative win MORE (R-Mo.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Energy: Chemical safety regulator's nomination at risk | Watchdog scolds Zinke on travel records | Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog Collins ‘leaning against’ Trump EPA chemical nominee MORE (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.