McCain To GOP: ‘We Can’t Win’ Shutdown Fight

September 30, 2013 6:30 p.m.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wants House Republicans to accept that they’ll lose the shutdown fight and pass a clean stopgap bill to keep the government open.

“We can’t win,” he told reporters in the Capitol, just two hours before a government shutdown. A clean continuing resolution, he said, “will happen sooner or later.”

He spoke moments after the Senate rejected the House GOP’s third attempt to chip away at Obamacare in a continuing resolution to avert a shutdown.

McCain said he reads polls and Republicans would “absolutely” take the blame for a government shutdown. “Congress always gets blamed,” he said. “Republicans will be perceived as blocking and as shutting down the government.”

“I only know what pollsters say,” he said. “You read the same polls that I do.”

Around 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday, House Republicans sought to attach a one-year delay of the Obamacare individual mandate and a provision denying health insurance subsidies to members of Congress and staff. Senate Democrats quickly voted to strike that down.

Shortly after McCain spoke, House Republicans revealed that they would meet to appoint members to a conference committee to invite Democrats to negotiate a spending resolution.

McCain said he hopes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would be willing to negotiate and accept the provision that bars health care subsidies for Congress, commonly known as the Vitter amendment. Reid has rejected that, pointing out that Obamacare merely lets members and staff receive an employer contribution for health insurance they’ll have to buy on the exchange, like millions of other Americans.

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The Arizona Republican said he respects the intentions of his young House colleagues. “A lot of them were elected in 2010 with a commitment,” McCain said, “and I respect that they want to repeal Obamacare, and that’s why they were elected.”

But he said they were picking a very risky — and unwinnable — battle. “I saw the movie back in 1995,” he said, “and it was very illuminating.”

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