The Author of the "Defund Obamacare" Letter Doesn't Want to Write It Again

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 18 2013 9:01 AM

The Author of the "Defund Obamacare" Letter Doesn't Want to Write It Again

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Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., seen here at the Exempt America From Obamacare rally onSept. 10, 2013, on Capitol Hill, has since mellowed.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ted Cruz gets most of the media's credit/blame for the goverment shutdown. But as Cruz would tell audiences, his vote in the Senate wasn't all that relevant to whether Obamacare would be funded. The House of Representatives held the power of the purse; it was up to them to defund. The real movers on the strategy were Georgia Rep. Tom Graves and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the authors (respectively) of the defund-Obamacare bill and the pledge to oppose any continuing resolution that didn't defund.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

So Cruz might now be dodging questions of whether he'd "shut the government down again." Meadows has mellowed. That process began as soon as the media started coming after him for the letter. "I’m one of 435 members and a very small part of this," he said on the first day of the shutdown.

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After the shutdown ended, Meadows told a local paper that he always wanted to prevent the madness.

Congressman Mark Meadows said Thursday he fought up to the final hours to prevent it from occurring and worked hard over the last 16 days to stave off its impact on his district.
In a phone interview Thursday as he drove home from Washington, Meadows said he spent 30 minutes with an Obama administration aide at the Capitol the night before the Oct. 1 shutdown “trying to work things out, seeing if there are some areas we could make tweaks to Obamacare and avoid a shutdown.”

That same day, I asked Meadows whether, in a few months, he would write another letter opposing the next CR. What if Obamacare wasn't defunded by then—would it be time for a new pledge?

"We're not going to need to because the president has said he's willing to negotiate when there's not a gun to his head," said Meadows.* "We'll fix all the problems between now and then. I'm gonna hold him to his word—his word was that he was willing to negotiate now, and that's what we all expect."

Obviously Meadows could change his mind in a few months, but I was struck how pragmatic he wanted to sound.

*Correction, Oct. 18, 2013: This post originally misquoted Rep. Mark Meadows as saying President Obama was “willing to negotiate with a gun to his head.”

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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