As the conflicts over Obamacare and the raising of the debt ceiling continue in the US Congress, it is becoming clear that those battles are not merely Republican versus Democrat, but also Republican versus Republican.
With just days left to pass a spending bill before a Government shutdown, backstage infighting burst into the open as Republican House Speaker John Boehner attempted to persuade his colleagues to vote for a bill that would increase the debt limit, while hindering the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act. At least 20 House Republicans remained unsatisfied and refused to discuss lifting the debt ceiling unless Government spending was addressed.
Republican Mo Brooks of Alabama told the National Journal he did not believe Mr Boehner’s package would pass, despite containing “a lot of goodies”. Mr Brooks said: “It does not cut spending and does not solve the problem.”
In the Senate, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker accused his colleague Ted Cruz of turning the prospect of a shutdown into an opportunity for self-promotion, after Mr Cruz spent more than 21 hours speaking on the Senate floor in protest at the legislation. Mr Cruz, the junior Senator from Texas, insisted that if fellow Republicans passed the budget, it would amount to tacit support of Obamacare. He later voted in favour of the bill. “I don’t think ever in the history of the Senate that we’ve had a 21-hour filibuster and then the person carrying out the filibuster voted for the issue they were filibustering,” Mr Corker said.
Senator Cruz, a Tea Party darling, is considered a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. A Gallup poll this week suggested that support for the Tea Party had shrunk from 32 per cent in November 2010 to 22 per cent.