POLITICS
07/31/2013 05:19 pm ET | Updated Aug 01, 2013

Saxby Chambliss: GOP 'Got Our Butts Kicked' In Earlier Government Shutdowns

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) advised Republican lawmakers on Wednesday that shutting down the government in an effort to stop Obamacare was a bad idea, saying the GOP "got our butts kicked" during the government shutdowns in President Bill Clinton's administration.

A number of tea party Republicans led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) have recently been pressing their GOP colleagues to refuse to pass a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government open beyond Sept. 30 if that resolution includes funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Essentially, their obstruction would shut down the government.

"We've been down that road," Chambliss said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "We shut down the government ... and we got our butts kicked over shutting down the government."

Chambliss was referring to the two government shutdowns that occurred in 1995 and 1996 over budget negotiation disagreements between Clinton and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

The showdown was incredibly unpopular with the American public, which blamed Gingrich and the Republicans for the impasse. The former speaker has admitted that their strategy "failed," while then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said Gingrich "made the mistake of his life."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of Lee's allies on this issue, downplayed the effects of a government shutdown on Wednesday.

"An awful lot of politicians in Washington I think are haunted by the ghost of shutdowns past," Cruz said on Laura Ingraham's radio show. "They remember the '95 shutdown, and it terrifies them."

"What happened in the temporary governmental shutdown was that non-essential government services were temporarily suspended," Cruz continued. "That's not a long term sustainable position, but it's also not this horrible end of the world."

As CNN Money reported, if the government shuts down, the "IRS will stop processing paper tax returns, the Small Business Administration will stop making loans and federal home loan guarantees will be put on hold." More than 800,000 federal workers would face unpaid leave.

Lee admitted Sunday that the government will probably keep running despite the Republican threat as President Barack Obama would not sign a bill that attacks his health care law. Other Republicans have rejected the idea of a government shutdown and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to support it.

A recent Congressional Research Service report showed that even if the government stopped running, Obamacare would still be implemented.

Danielle Schlanger contributed reporting.

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