McConnell Punts On Obamacare Shutdown Push

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declined to take a position Tuesday afternoon when asked if he’s made a decision about conservative efforts to block a government funding resolution unless Obamacare is defunded.

“We’ve had a lot of internal discussions about the way forward this fall, on both the continuing resolution and ultimately the debt ceiling. And those dicussions continue,” he told reporters at his weekly press conference. “I know they’re going on on the House side as well. There’s no particular announcement at this point, but you all are familiar with the various points of view about how we might go forward later this year.”

McConnell is facing a variety of competing pressures. As a party leader, he has to worry about the political dangers of inciting a government shutdown. But he’s also taking heat from conservatives: His 2014 GOP primary challenger, Matt Bevin, has called on him to sign a pledge vowing not to supporting a continuing resolution if it funds Obamacare.

“Mitch McConnell’s rhetoric on defeating Obamacare is nothing but empty promises,” Bevin said in a statement Tueday. “Obamacare is a disaster and if we can’t repeal it, we have a responsibility to the American people to defund it. I challenge Mitch McConnell to join me in signing the pledge to defund Obamacare.”

Some senior Republican lawmakers and conservative writers have come out against the push, and some of its advocates admit that the GOP isn’t likely to follow through. The deadline to fund the government or face a shutdown is Sept. 30.

This post has been updated.


Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.