News Tip − Expert Comments on Possible Government Shutdown Due to Lack of Agreed Upon Budget


Tea Party Republicans’ attempt to defund Obamacare by tacking on a measure to the new federal spending bill will ultimately fail as Democrats and a handful of Republicans come together to avoid a government shutdown, according to JMU assistant professor of political science Dr. Timothy M. LaPira.

Asst. Professor Tim LaPiraDr. Timothy M. LaPira
Assistant professor of political science, James Madison University

LaPira is an expert on American politics, specifically politics within the Beltway and Congress, interest groups, lobbying and political influence. His current research focus is on so-called “revolving door” lobbyists. He has worked as a legislative assistant within Congress and as a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, where he created the Lobbying and Revolving Door databases on


What those in Congress are doing is strategically setting up the decision context — how the decision gets made — in a way that they have to force a very difficult choice at the very end. This is not the first government shutdown that has been threatened in the past few years. Sadly this tactic is becoming more the norm than it is the exception.”

“Both parties know that they will be harmed politically if a government shutdown happens. A shutdown, unlike sequestration that happened last year, is immediate and it’s noticeable everywhere outside of Washington. And the American public will blame everyone in Congress — in both parties."

“These conservative Republicans’ attempt to defund Obamacare is a last-ditch effort to throw a wrench into the gears. What the Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate are trying to do is get any movement on delaying Obamacare. They would consider that a victory because they see the political reality. They know that they will never be able to get rid of this program unless there are some major institutional changes, such as a Republican sweep in the midterm elections. And that’s unlikely. And even if they did, Obama still has the veto pen for three more years. So they’re not looking for an all-out victory; they’re looking to win a battle or two so that when they run for reelection next year, they can claim that they fought the good fight and that they stood by their principles."

“Most of the Republicans in Congress now weren’t there in 1995 [during the last government shutdown]. They don’t remember how badly the party was hurt. That’s why the GOP leadership today doesn’t want to follow through on the threat of a government shutdown. But none of that matters to Sen. Lee or Sen. Cruz or the Tea Party Republicans in the House. They’re just as willing to run against their own party leadership. That element didn’t exist within the Republican Party 20 years ago when there were enough moderates to balance them out."

“The Tea Party will make a big stink and try to obstruct or delay any bill that doesn’t defund Obamacare, but ultimately it will fail. They’ll keep kicking the can down the road as long as they can. You have the Democrats who have the equal but opposite incentive to keep the law, and enough Republicans who want to avoid a public relations disaster. Now, exactly how they get to that, and when they get to that point, is what I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you.”

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Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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