McConnell: Shutting down the government won't stop ObamaCare

Shutting down the federal government will not stop President Obama's healthcare law from taking effect, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCures bill in jeopardy amid drug pricing push Senate Democratic super PAC sets fundraising record Five takeaways from Florida Senate debate MORE said on Tuesday.

"I'm for stopping ObamaCare, but shutting down the government will not stop ObamaCare," McConnell (R-Ky.) told a crowd at a healthcare center in Corbin, Ky., according to a local television reporter who attended the event.

Republicans are divided over whether to threaten or force a government shutdown over funding for the healthcare law. Conservatives led by Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeDonald Trump's Mormon PR problem Trump's big worry isn't rigged elections, it's GOP establishment GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Utah) are pushing the party to embrace a possible shutdown, but establishment Republicans have sharply criticized the idea.

Congress needs to pass legislation funding the government by Oct. 1 to avoid a shutdown.

Supporters of the shutdown threat have been trying to build a grassroots campaign to pressure McConnell, who is facing a primary challenge from businessman Matt Bevin as he campaigns for reelection.

The GOP leader had previously declined to take a position on the shutdown threat, though his aides have said it would not stop the law from taking effect.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently said closing the government would not stop the implementation of ObamaCare.

Most of the law's implementation funding comes from sources other than annual spending bills, so the work of implementing it could largely continue even if the government were closed, according to the CRS.

Conservatives see the maneuver as a way to put Obama in a political bind. If the GOP agrees to fund the whole government except ObamaCare, they reason, the president would be the one who shut down the government by refusing to kill off the law.