Good catch by Seung Min Kim, and good rebound by Greg Sargent.* Republicans, having been whipsawed by the government shutdown and embittered that it gave Kathleen Sebelius two weeks of freedom from Obamacare coverage, are no longer inclined to force a fight over the health care law. Via Kim:
Congressional Republicans from across the ideological spectrum are already skeptical of trying to extract concessions from Democrats on the Affordable Care Act — a dynamic that triggered an unpopular government shutdown last fall.
“You could do that. I don’t think that will work,” a chuckling Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said about tying changes to the health care law to the debt limit fight. “I think we’ve had a dress rehearsal for that comedy.”
… Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, one of the most conservative House Republicans and a champion of the fall defund movement, said “Obamacare is cratering itself” and acknowledged that there’s no way to change the health care law without cooperation with the White House.
Insofar as anyone “won” the shutdown on the right, it was the center-right leadership that had warned against making Republicans look like heavies on Obamacare. The hardliners got their chance—they got to test whether extreme measures would be more popular, more resonant, than the norm of weekly anti-Obamacare legislation passing the House and failing in the Senate. They failed. “Will you tie Obamacare to the debt limit?” is already seen on the Hill as a sort of dumb and leading question. (UPDATE: At least one reporter has taken umbrage at this line. What I’m trying to say, in my patented “confusing prose” way, is that Republicans who very recently were adamant about using the debt limit for this demand are now annoyed when asked about it. Not that the ask itself is dumb.)
Even the omnibus appropriations bill, introduced late last night, is an example of the fading bullfight instincts. The 1,582-page bill will be voted on in two days, not the 72 hours that the class of 2010 GOP promised to grant all bills. And it hardly touches Obamacacare.
*I realized in advance that this sports analogy made no sense.