Club for Growth pushes McConnell over health law shutdown threat

The conservative Club for Growth is pushing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellIsrael boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate Schumer blasts GOP request for immigration 'slush fund' Trump: 'Too early to say' if shutdown will be averted MORE (R-Ky.) to use the threat of a government shutdown to deny funds for ObamaCare. 

The group urged McConnell on Wednesday to back an effort led by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate votes to end debate on criminal justice reform bill Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote MORE (R-Utah) to filibuster any government funding bill that includes money for the healthcare law. 

Lee has been circulating a letter summarizing the plan. It has 15 signatures so far, according to the Club. 

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"If Sen. McConnell is committed to defunding ObamaCare, then he should sign the Lee letter," said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement. 

"We are disappointed by rumors that Senate Republican leadership is pressuring senators not to sign Lee's letter or to remove their names," Chocola added. 

The push puts McConnell in a tough position. 

On one hand, the GOP leader wants to ensure his party is not blamed for a government shutdown. 

On the other, McConnell is facing a primary challenge from Tea Party businessman Matt Bevin, who is scheduled to officially announce his bid on Wednesday. 

Groups like the Club for Growth could ultimately side with Bevin and commit serious resources to his race, posing a major threat to McConnell. The United Kentucky Tea Party endorsed Bevin ahead of his announcement Wednesday. 

On Wednesday, Chocola said Club for Growth had met with Bevin and wanted to “hear more about his candidacy and the differences between him and Senator McConnell on the issues.”

“The Club’s PAC will watch Kentucky’s Senate race – as it would with any race – over the coming months to determine if our involvement is warranted,” he said in a statement.

Talk of a shutdown threat over ObamaCare has intensified as members of Senate GOP leadership lend support to the plan, including McConnell's two top deputies, John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government Trump, Dems dig in over shutdown GOP lawmakers distance themselves from ObamaCare ruling MORE (Texas) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber The Year Ahead: Push for privacy bill gains new momentum On The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump's shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall 'a manhood thing' for Trump MORE (S.D.). 

In addition to the Club for Growth, Heritage Action has endorsed the effort, urging lawmakers Tuesday only to support must-pass bills that defund ObamaCare. 

This story was updated at 12:41 p.m.