Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said Friday that the federal government shutdown that ended earlier this week was not a “net positive” for the Republican Party, but he hopes to tap the energy of the conservative base for more winnable causes in the future.
Sessions explained on Laura Ingraham’s radio show that the efforts of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were valuable in exposing the problems of Obamacare and its contributions to the national debt. But he also pointed out there are those who oppose Obamacare but did not agree with the shutdown strategy.
“I think Republicans should value the contribution of Cruz and Lee and others who brought new energy and a willingness to engage the issues directly and point out the great threats of this health-care proposal and the debt posed to America,” Sessions said. “And at the same time, I think we’ve got to unify behind a strategy for which we can all fight that has the best chance of being successful and put us on the side of the American people.”
“The American people are uneasy about shutdowns,” he continued. “They are not comfortable with that. But they want to see us push and fight and make progress toward goals. So setting some goals that we can achieve that advance the philosophical views, I think, of most Americans can be done and believe that we can unite behind it and we ought to incorporate this energy and drive some of our new members have brought to the Senate.”
Ingraham asked Sessions if she thought perhaps Cruz and Lee’s inexperience in the Senate may have contributed to their willingness to promote the government shutdown. Although Sessions had spoken in support of Cruz’s marathon Senate speech last month, he pointed out that he hadn’t signed on to a letter calling for the defunding of Obamacare in the continuing resolution.
“I tend to think so,” Sessions replied. “I didn’t sign the letter because I couldn’t see it ending as they thought it would. … There were some great people that shared the goals of Lee and Cruz who felt there is a better way of doing this and that this could end up in a damaging situation, and I think it hasn’t been good right now. What we can hope is we have to see the value of the energy that Cruz and Lee and others have created and harness that in a more positive way.”
Ingraham said the shutdown has not been a good thing for the GOP, and Sessions agreed.
“I agree with you,” Sessions replied. “Fundamentally, at this point this has not been a positive experience. And, I don’t think it’s a net positive experience now. But can we harness this and learn from it? Perhaps.”