Stalemate City: Three conservative Republicans make case against Obamacare, defend shutdown

Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge & Alexandra Dukakis
Power Players
Stalemate City: Three conservative Republicans make case against Obamacare, defend shutdown

The Fine Print

Three conservative Republicans at the center of the budget showdown, who were elected in the tea party wave that helped the GOP win control of the House in 2010, say the government shutdown may be a necessary step to highlight the perils of Obamacare.

"Delay of Obamacare's the right thing for America," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. "I don't know why he couldn't delay Obamacare for one year."

As the first government shutdown in 17 years intensifies, Labrador and his Republican colleagues, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, sat down with "The Fine Print" to discuss the shutdown -- and the way forward.

“In the western hemisphere, we try to find a win-win situation,” said Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind. “And that's not the way Barack Obama and Harry Reid are negotiating right now.”

The central issue that President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress are unwilling to negotiate with Republicans on is changes to the Affordable Care Act, which opened for enrollment this week, even as much of the rest of the government was shutting down.

“The American people have spoken already on this. They do not want Obamacare,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., who describes the president’s unwillingness to negotiate on the law as "disappointing."

“It shows his lack of leadership,” she told “The Fine Print.

One thing is for certain: The first government shutdown in nearly two decades affirms how deeply polarized Washington is today. A day into the landmark closing, there were few fresh signs of agreement between the dueling sides.

While Labrador said Republicans may be 25 percent to blame for the standoff, he said Democrats should bear the brunt of the political fallout. He said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was responsible for 75 percent of the shutdown.

"We're not the ones punishing people," Labrador said. "It's actually Harry Reid who's punishing people."

Another issue at center stage in the debate is the debt ceiling, which Stutzman said carries more long-term ramifications than the government shutdown.

“I would rather have my family’s vacation disrupted [because] a park is closed rather than my 401K in the tank,” he said.

All three members of Congress said they would oppose Speaker John Boehner, if he decided to compromise and try to pass a "clean" emergency spending bill that was not part of a plan to defund or delay the health care law. But they said they stood behind Boehner and did not believe he would change course.

For more of the interview with the three Republican lawmakers at the heart of the dispute in Washington, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”

ABC’s Robin Gradison, Avery Miller, John Parkinson, Steve Cocklin, Anne Cocklin, Mike LaBella, Mark Banks and Gary Westphalen contributed to this episode.