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In GOP, view mixed on another shutdown

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” said Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

Joe Mitchell/Reuters

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” said Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

NEW YORK — After the spending deal last week that reopened the federal government through early 2014, Republicans tried to ease concerns Sunday about the possibility of another shutdown in just a few months.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who as the chamber’s top Republican helped broker the agreement, said that although he disliked the new federal health care law — the sticking point in the latest impasse — there was no use in Republicans’ trying to roll it back while Democrats control the Senate and the presidency.

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“There will not be another government shutdown,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “You can count on that.”

But Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, who was criticized by many in his own party for prolonging the gridlock, called last week’s budget agreement “terrible” and did not rule out another shutdown.

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

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Republicans backed away from their push to defund President Obama’s health care law Wednesday, agreeing to a deal to reopen and finance the government through Jan. 15 and allow the government to continue borrowing money through Feb. 7.

Illuminating the divisions within the Republican Party, Cruz blamed his fellow Senate Republicans for the defeat. On the CNN program “State of the Union,” he said they could have succeeded if they had united behind their counterparts in the House and called out the Democrats for their unwillingness to compromise.

“What we did have is we had half the Republican conference on TV, not making that point, but instead making President Obama and the Democrats’ point, attacking the House Republicans, attacking those of us trying to stop Obamacare,” Cruz said.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, called for civility within his party, apologizing for calling Cruz and other Tea Party conservatives “wacko birds.”

But McCain rejected the notion that Cruz could cause a second shutdown in January.

“I think that he can exercise his rights as a senator, but it will not happen,” he said. “The American people will not stand for another one of these things.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew emphasized the risk of continuing gridlock, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that economic growth took a hit during the 16-day shutdown as the nation approached its borrowing limit.

“We need to make sure that government does not go through another round of brinksmanship,” he said. “This can never happen again.”

Analysts says lawmakers, particularly the Republicans, could pay a high political price for the shutdown in 2014’s midterm elections.

‘‘I think there was some ground lost from the political point of view,’’ said former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender.

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll last week, 47 percent of self-identified Republicans disapproved of how their party was handling the shutdown. Forty-nine percent approved.

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Sunday that the public was outraged by the partisan gamesmanship.

‘‘I join the American people in their disgust at what happened in terms of the shutdown of government,’’ she said on the ABC program.

‘‘There were really no winners,’’ said Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat. ‘‘I mean, our country took an economic hit.’’ Standard & Poor’s estimated that the shutdown cost the economy $24 billion, or about $75 for every US resident.

Under the agreement that ended the government closure last Wednesday, a group of House and Senate lawmakers has until Dec. 13 to produce a spending accord to stave off another shutdown and possible default in early 2014.

Some of the options for spending cuts could include reductions in programs such as farm subsidies, federal pensions, the Postal Service, and unemployment insurance, as well as relatively minimal tax loophole closings, possibly as little as $55 billion.

A more ambitious agreement would require a much more difficult trade-off in areas where the parties have fundamental differences: higher tax revenues, which Republicans oppose, in exchange for reductions in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that Democrats vow they will not consider without curbs on tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations.

If the negotiations fail, the next round of across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will hit automatically, even deeper than the first. Democrats want to avoid that far more than Republicans do.

Under sequestration, $20 billion in automatic cuts to the military budget would take effect by January, along with a 25 percent cut in compensation paid to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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