In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Top Republican Walks Back Government Shutdown Threat

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Newscom

"Republicans are more determined than ever to implement the spending cuts and structural entitlement reforms that are needed to secure the long-term fiscal integrity of our country," he wrote. "The coming deadlines will be the next flashpoints in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain. President Obama needs to take note of this reality and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately."

The shift comes amid a dramatic sea change in elite conservative and GOP opinion about the need to raise the debt ceiling by early March or default on the country's obligations. With President Obama and Democrats holding firm in their refusal to make any concessions, Republican leaders and influential conservatives increasingly see their posture as infeasible, if not dangerous to their party's viability.

At the House GOP's annual retreat this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was urging members to "recognize the realities" of divided government.

Asked about the op-ed and his apparent change of heart, Cornyn told the Chronicle editorial board that it was simply a negotiating stance.

"You sometimes try to inject a little doubt in your negotiating partner about where you're going to go," he said, "but I would tell you unequivocally that we're not going to default."