Rep. Mike Pence, a former member of GOP leadership and an influential conservative in the House, told lawmakers at a closed-door meeting last week, “I would rather shut the government down for a few days than shut the future down for my children and our grandchildren,” according to freshman Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican.
Insiders say the speech by Pence was a turning point in the burgeoning conservative rebellion against a three-week spending bill introduced by GOP leaders Friday. Right-wing opponents to the measure want House Speaker John Boehner to take a harder line in negotiations with Democrats over spending cuts.
Duncan, in announcing his opposition to any more short-term spending bills, cited Pence’s leadership in a written statement.
“I’m not seeking a temporary government shutdown, but rather a permanent return to our Founding Fathers’ principles of limited government. However, I do agree with my colleague Mike Pence that ‘I would rather shut the government down for a few days than shut the future down for my children and our grandchildren,’” Duncan said.
Pence made his speech before the Republican Study Committee’s members only meeting last week, and a spokesman for Duncan confirmed the quote was taken from Pence’s remarks that day.
Duncan also expressed concerns that short-term spending bills are playing into Democrats’ hands in terms of political strategy.
“Continuing to pass short-term CRs is exactly what President Obama and Harry Reid want; to delay enacting serious spending reform. The people of South Carolina expect our government to cut up the credit cards and put an end to our country’s spending addiction. Cutting the size and scope of government won’t be possible as long as Congress squabbles over cutting millions of dollars when our nation is $14 trillion in debt,” Duncan said.
Pence’s remarks are important because he is one of the most high-profile Republicans to back a more aggressive stance against Democrats in the battle over spending cuts.