WASHINGTON — Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a hard-core leader of House conservatives who helped force a government shutdown in a fight over the scope of federal health care spending, sent out a statement on Wednesday bragging that the House had voted to “fully fund the National Institutes of Health.”
On Thursday, Representative Todd Rokita of Indiana, who was swept to power in the Tea Party wave of 2010, stepped up to a microphone in the basement of the Capitol to recount his son’s struggles with a severe disability.
“Families, faith communities, associations and neighbors can take care of us better than government programs can,” he said. “But government should be there to help.”
“Science,” he added, “is a gift.”
Much of the federal government shut down on Tuesday because of a clash between Congressional Republicans and President Obama in which Republicans sought to tie further government financing to delaying or crippling his health care law. Beneath the mechanics lie deeper philosophical disagreements about spending, taxation and the size and scope of government.
But the week’s events have blurred the divide. Republican leaders have offered mixed messages on the cause of the shutdown, and the House floor has played host to a parade of bills to restore government functions piece by piece, accompanied by rhetorical flourishes from ardent conservatives extolling the role of government in civic life and the selflessness of civil servants.
Representative Dennis A. Ross, a Florida Republican who was also elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, said the party risked losing a fight over the scale of government while waging a quixotic war against the health care law. Though much of the government is shut down, he said, the Affordable Care Act, which is financed by its own appropriations, is moving forward unimpeded.
“Republicans have to realize how many significant gains we’ve made over the last three years — and we have, not only in cutting spending but in really turning the tide on other things,” Mr. Ross said. “We can’t lose all that when there’s no connection now between the shutdown and the funding of Obamacare.”
“I think now it’s a lot about pride,” he said.
In one breath on Friday, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said the fiscal impasse was about bringing “fairness to the American people under Obamacare” and about doing “something about our spending problem.”
And the central principle of Tea Party conservatism, an aggressive attack on government programs, has given way among a growing number of Republicans to a full-throated defense of federal functions as varied as national parks and nutrition programs for the impoverished.
On Friday evening, House Republicans voted unanimously to authorize $6.5 billion in new spending on the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.
And in a rare weekend session, the House voted 407 to 0 on Saturday on a bill to guarantee that federal workers — once denigrated by conservatives as overpaid and underworked — will receive back pay once the government reopens.
At a hearing in 2011, Mr. Ross, the chairman of the House subcommittee on the federal work force, the Postal Service and labor policy, charged that “federal employees on average earned $101,628 in total compensation in 2010, nearly four times more than the average private-sector worker.”
On Saturday, those workers were suddenly selfless civil servants: nurses and doctors saving lives, emergency workers braving natural disasters and NASA scientists exploring the frontiers of space.
“This has been an Orwellian week in which white is black and black is white,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia.
Force a shutdown, blame Dems for the fact that you forced a shutdown, blame Dems for the fact that shutdowns hurt, do a 180 on the whole "evil federal government worker" swill, and then try to pick and choose which particular portions of government function by terroristic fiat?
Utter swine. I voted for Scott Brown but I'll have to remind myself of this before ever considering to vote R again.
The walking cesspools have the nerve to complain about Obamacare was passed despite their promise to oppose it, along with everything else Obama wants, to break him and make him a one term President...
...and now this? Hold a gun to America's head and issue demands?
The founders were right: Faction is extremely dangerous.
No doubt the sycophants will keep cheering on their masters here...