U.S. Sen. Bob Corker warned House Republicans today not to let a single-minded focus on torpedoing a "shiny object" - President Barack Obama's health care law - damage previous year's hard-won gains in cutting federal spending.
The Chattanooga Republican issued his cautionary note in a Senate floor speech, saying zeroing in on the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has consumed all the attention in the debate over a temporary funding measure to fund the federal government.
House Republicans' insistence first on defunding the law and now delaying portions of it has led to a partial government shutdown with Obama and fellow Senate Democrats refusing to budge.
"I'm concerned that so much focus has been placed on the 'shiny object,' the health care law, as it relates to the [continuing funding resolution] that our focus has been taken off the gains that we've made in controlling spending," Corker said in his floor speech.
The senator said "sometimes when people find themselves in a box canyon or in a place that is difficult, people begin doing things that are not in the best long-term interests.
"My message to the House would be: whatever you have to do to cobble together 218 votes to pass a bill relative to the [continuing resolution] and the debt ceiling, please do not negotiate away the hard-won gains that we were able to put in place to reduce spending and to help make our country stronger," Corker said.
The senator said as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act, for the first time since the 1950s domestic discretionary spending for successive years has fallen, going from $1.43 trillion in fiscal year 2012 to $988 billion in FY 2013.
Spending would dip to $967 billion if Congress sticks with the agreement to fund the government for the FY 2014, which began Monday, according to the senator.
The partial government shutdown is now in its third day and on its first day, the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges went live because their funding is not even affected by the partisan spat.
Many Senate Republicans are unhappy with the strategy employed by House Republicans and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The Internet political news website Politico reported this week that at Senate Republicans' closed-door weekly policy luncheon on Wednesday, Cruz, has pushed the defunding issue, was confronted by angry fellow Republican colleagues over how he plans to resolve the budget standoff or explain how he would defund Obamacare.
Politico quoted several unnamed senators including one who said "it was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn't have a strategy - he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was. I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch."