In this Jan. 5, 2011, file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio reenacts the House swearing in of Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House’s rabble-rousing Republican freshmen and tea partyers have loudly refused to cut a deal as the GOP battles President Barack Obama over the government’s debt. Yet when it’s time for Boehner to hunt votes for whatever accord he reaches with the White House, the House speaker will have a large pool of veteran GOP lawmakers to target. “Some of us have seen this movie,” said Campbell, a four-term member who said he wants to remain flexible. “We know where it could go and all the things that could happen."
Many people didn't think the government shutdown would happen, but it did. Yesterday we heard reaction from California Democrat Janice Hahn, so this morning we turn to California Republican John Campbell to take the pulse of his party.
Congressman John Campbell represents the 45th district in California and sits on the House Budget Committee.
Has your position changed now that the government has shutdown?
"No, my position has not changed at all. I think there are two things that have happened. First of all, we have made four different attempts with the Senate and the fifth one last night where we are trying to send them different things.
"Yes, we want to repeal Obamacare and we tried that, but then every offer since then has been something less than that, and each one of these bills, included with it, is funding the government through Dec. 15. We are doing the best we can, but their position, Harry Reid's and the President's, is we will not negotiate."
They sound like offers everyone knew would be rejected anyway. Are they offers just to make an offer?
"We want Obamacare fully repealed. But I understand the President is the President, the Senate is the Senate and we're not going to get that. The President and the Senate need to understand they don't control the entire government either. We are willing to compromise, we are offering compromises, we understand we won't be able to repeal Obamacare fully.
"But the President needs to understand he is not going to be able to maintain this law without some changes either. The idea that the President and the Senate have that its my way or the highway, just doesn't work in a democracy. I think eventually they'll figure that out."
But the game is sort of over in that sense, you're asking the winner in this, the democrats, to still compromise when they don't have to?
"First of all, many laws are put into effect and repealed. I mean prohibition was a law of the land and it was repealed. Slavery was the law of the land and it was repealed. Just because a law is in effect doesn't mean its good, doesn't mean its working, doesn't mean the people support it."
But, Congressman, yesterday we saw health care exchange websites around the country crashing as servers became overloaded with people...Isn't that some shred of proof that the demand is there?
"How about all the people at Walgreens and at UPS who have now lost their health coverage? How about all the small companies that no longer want to hire a 51st employee because it will cost them too much money? How about all the people I know who were told by the President, 'if you liked your health care you can keep it, but they now can't keep it, or the price of it has gone up specifically because of the Obamacare mandates?
"For every person, and I'm not going to say that no one is going to benefit from Obamacare, there will be people. But for every person who benefits form Obamacare there are going to be three of four who are going to be hurt by it. And that's why I would like to repeal this law."
How would you characterize this shutdown?
"There are 279 elected Republicans in federal office. 100 percent of those people want Obamacare repealed, there is no disagreement on that. There is complete support within our conference, within the Republican Caucus for the position we are taking for the fight we're in and the reason we are in this fight."
But we're starting to see Republicans coming out against this shutdown and some of the tactics of the GOP, California Republican Devin Nunez said yesterday, he called some within the party "lemmings":
"There are about eight Republicans out there that want to basically give to Harry Reid's position. Eight out of 233 or 234, so it is a small number that are taking that position. I have never seen our group as unified as we are right now. "
How long do you think this shutdown will last?
"Ask Harry Reid."
Let's say Reid does come to the table...what are Republicans willing to compromise at that point?
"We want something on Obamacare. We want something dealing with that law. We've thrown several different proposals out there and I think we'll negotiate from there. As far as what we're willing to accept, I don't know. If the debt limit gets thrown in there, who knows how many different things can wind up being on the table and maybe there would be some large general agreement.
Everybody has to win something, everybody has to lose something. But we're not going to be doing any further negotiating with ourselves, I'm sure the democrats won't do that either, but as I've said here many times, we can't make an agreement if we don't talk. So the first step is for the Senate Democrats to agree to sit down and talk about some kind of deal."