If there's any doubt that the ultimatum to gut a landmark health care law or shut down the federal government sprang from the Republican Party's fringe, consider:
Kentucky's Republican senators are offering ways to keep the government funded.
Even facing a Tea Party primary challenger, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell voted to end Sen. Ted Cruz's anti-Obamacare filibuster. Then on Monday, McConnell proposed a temporary funding resolution to avoid the government shutdown that came at midnight.
McConnell's proposal didn't fly, obviously.
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On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, echoed McConnell's call for a temporary resolution to re-open the government and allow for negotiations.
While both McConnell and Paul continue to rip the Affordable Care Act and call for its repeal, they do seem to understand that voters would frown on a minority party that holds the government hostage because it lacks the votes to change or repeal a law it doesn't like.
The same can't be said for Kentucky's Republicans in the House, including Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington, who before the shutdown told the Herald-Leader, "this is a country that's divided, as evidenced by the last election when they re-elected a president who supported Obamacare but re-elected a Congress that opposed Obamacare."
If, as Barr said, Congress opposed what he calls Obamacare, then Congress — the House and Senate — could repeal or amend it.
But there are not enough votes in Congress to repeal or amend it.
That's why Republicans, who could have celebrated a win on spending cuts, must instead worry about being blamed for shutting down national parks, cutting off paychecks to 800,000-plus workers, disrupting services to veterans and halting coal mine inspections and permitting.